9:00 PM ET, January 14, 2004
Comcast Center, College Park, Maryland
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) -- Having grown weary of chasing North Carolina (No. 11 ESPN/USA Today, No. 9 AP) up and down the court, Maryland knew it had to do something different in the second half.So the Terrapins cranked up the defense Wednesday night and worked to keep a step ahead of the Tar Heels. The result: a gratifying 90-84 upset victory for a young but determined squad. Jamar Smith scored 22 points, John Gilchrist had 20 and Nik Caner-Medley added 17 for Maryland (10-3, 1-1 Atlantic Coast Conference). After yielding a season-high 49 points in the first half, Maryland put the clamps on a powerful offense that surpassed 100 points in each of its first two conference games. "The first half we matched them basket for basket," Smith said. "The coaches told us to keep playing our defense, and that's what we did in the second half." In a dramatic reversal, the Tar Heels ended up chasing Smith. The center went to the foul line for 12 shots in the second half and scored 14 points. "After watching them on tape I knew [UNC center Sean May] couldn't keep up with my quickness," Smith said. "I tried to go around him every time I got the ball." North Carolina, which led by 10 points in the first half, went 11-for-34 from the field with eight turnovers in the final 20 minutes. The Tar Heels did not score one fast-break basket in the second half. "The shots just weren't dropping," Tar Heels guard Rashad McCants said. May scored 18 points and Raymond Felton added 16 for the Tar Heels (10-3, 1-2), who have lost five straight regular-season games to Maryland. "The bottom line is that Maryland made big-time plays down the stretch," North Carolina coach Roy Williams said. "They were very focused on getting the ball to Jamar Smith, and we didn't do a good job covering him." The Tar Heels next face No. 1 Connecticut on Saturday. It was 78-all before Smith -- the only senior on the Maryland squad -- made two foul shots. Travis Garrison then converted two at the line for a four-point lead with 1:24 to go. May followed with a free throw, but Chris McCray made two foul shots for Maryland and Smith added another to make it 85-79 with 57 seconds left. It was 86-84 before McCray made two free throws with 3.5 seconds remaining. After the second went through the net, he crossed his arms and mouthed, "It's over." After trailing for most of the first half, the Terrapins used a 14-1 run to go up 62-55 with 14:08 left. Smith scored seven points in the surge, which provided Maryland its first lead since 4-3. The Tar Heels closed to 62-61 before Gilchrist hit a jumper, Caner-Medley made a 3-pointer and Gilchrist added two free throws for a 69-61 lead. But North Carolina got 3-pointers from Melvin Scott, Jawad Williams and Rashad McCants in a 17-9 run that tied it with 3:09 remaining. Jawad Williams, who broke his nose in Sunday's 103-88 win over Georgia Tech, played with a protective mask and was held to five points in a backup role. The Tar Heels came out running from the opening tip, and Maryland had trouble keeping pace. North Carolina made 10 of its first 14 field goal attempts, the majority in transition, in taking a 25-18 lead. It was 33-28 before Maryland's Ekene Ibekwe scored on an emphatic dunk. But he was called for hanging on the rim, and Felton made two free throws on the technical and two layups to spark a 7-0 run that made it 40-30. With 7:19 left in the first half, North Carolina had more points than the Terrapins yielded in their previous game, an 87-38 rout of Maryland-Eastern Shore.