9:00 PM ET, January 30, 2003
Comcast Center, College Park, Maryland
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) -- As he walked into the locker room at halftime, Maryland senior Drew Nicholas had mixed emotions.The Terrapins' leading scorer was down on himself for being blanked, yet he had reason to be optimistic because Maryland (No. 9 ESPN/USA Today, No. 10 AP) trailed North Carolina State by only 28-27."Down by a point with the way I'd been playing, I felt pretty good,'' he said. "I knew I was going to get myself going.''Nicholas hit two straight 3-pointers during a 14-0 second-half run, and Steve Blake scored 20 points as Maryland pulled away to a 75-60 victory Thursday night.Nicholas scored all 13 of his points after halftime as the defending NCAA champions solidified their hold on first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference with their 14th straight home win over the Wolfpack."We've established ourselves as the top team in the ACC,'' Blake said. "Now we need to work to stay there. We have to keep getting better.''Maryland (13-4, 6-1) was clinging to 43-41 lead before finally busting loose. Tahj Holden started the 14-point run with two free throws, and Nicholas followed with successive shots from long range. Nik Caner-Medley then made a layup, and four free throws made it 57-41 with 10 minutes left. Marcus Melvin had 15 points and Julius Hodge 14 for N.C. State (11-5, 4-2), which missed a chance to extend its winning streak to four and move into first place in the ACC. "Nicholas hit some shots in the second half that really helped them,'' said Hodge, who missed five of eight field goal attempts. After committing six turnovers during Maryland's 14-point run, the Wolfpack battled back. A 10-0 run made it 60-54 with 5:20 to go, but two free throws by Blake and a basket by Caner-Medley quelled the comeback."It's a game of runs,'' Hodge said. "They had theirs, we made ours. One more shot might have done it for us, but we didn't get that shot.''Blake went 7-for-10 from the field, made all four of his 3-pointers and had seven assists.Nicholas went 4-for-7 after halftime, including 3-for-5 from beyond the arc. "Drew and Steve were terrific in the second half. They're a great backcourt together,'' Maryland coach Gary Williams said.The Terrapins were fortunate to be trailing by only one point at halftime. Maryland went 3-for-8 at the foul line, had as many turnovers as baskets (11) and didn't get anything Nicholas, who missed all four of his field goal attempts.Blake scored 10 points in the first half, but none of his teammates had more than two baskets.The Wolfpack scored the game's first five points and led 15-10 before reserve forward Jamar Smith scored in the lane and Blake hit a jumper during a 6-0 run that gave Maryland its first lead.
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