Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
Everyting Maryland did in its 91-78 victory over Western Kentucky last night seemed impossible.
No team could be as good as the Terps looked during a four-minute detonation to start the second half when they obliterated the Hilltoppers, 21-6.
And no team with such an enormous advantage in talent, height and health could look as slipshod as Maryland did over the other 36 minutes, in which WKU actually outscored the hosts, 72-70.
For coach Lefty Driesell and the 7,200 fans at Cole Field House last night, this opener of the Maryland Invitational Tournament was like an invitation to watch poor Dr. Jekyll as the full moon came out.
MIT ought to stand for Multitudes of Incredible Torments.
While the Terps seemed intent on torturing Driesell with their antics, Georgia Tech obeyed everything its coach Dwane Morrison commanded in a 73-67 upset of St. John's in the second game.
"At halftime," said the rumpled, basset-houndish Morrison, explaining his strategy, "I begged them to win with tears in my eyes as big as basketballs.
"We're an ugly ball club, ugly up and down the court. But we know how to help each other out."
Tech's Sammy Drummer and Tiko Brown were most helpful, scoring 20 points each as lackadaisical St. John's watched Tech run off 12 successive points to take a 63-57 lead with 4:29 left.
If the ugly duckling Ramblin' Wrecks (now 7-2) epitomized perseverance, then the mercurial. Terps, whom they will meet in the championship at 9 o'clock - tonight, were the height of impatient brilliance.
The Terps' four-minute crescendo just after intermission served as perfect counterpoint for the rest of the dreary affair.
WKU, playing without its star, 6-foot-7 James Johnson, a 22.4-average scorer who was out with a sprained ankle, had hung close for 20 minutes, 44-42.
But when Maryland's Lawrence Boston broke free on the second-half tip and threw down an enormous slam dunk, it was like a cymbal crash that ignited the 8-1 Terps.
"Those next few moments were extraodinary," said awed Hilltopper coach Jim Richards.
Albert King, the freshman who has been Prince Albert in the can much of this season, suddenly came to life.
In four minutes he had four buckets, each surpassing the last for flair.
First came a Kingly driving lefty layup, followed by a spinning never-look-at-the-hoop jumper.
When Maryland missed its only two shots in 14 consecutive possessions, King grabbed both and flipped 'em back in. The first followup was routinely stratospheric. The second should only have been possible in zero-G outer space.
King snagged the carom on his way up, windmilled the ball from head level down to knees and back up again, then switched hands and finger-rolled in a layup.
"Ain't it the truth," praised one fan as if he were at a revival meeting.
When King wasn't on his high wire, 6-10 Mike Davis was blocking shots, rebounding and starting fast breaks and Billy Bryant was ending them on layups on which he seemed to be sighting down at the hoop."
When the dust cleared, WKU was dead for certain, 65-48, and Boston was on his way to 23 points, Bryant 19 and King 19. Davis had 15 rebounds, nine points, at least six blocked shots and three steals.
That was the good news - all of it. Maryland threw away passes (22 turnovers), let little Western get a shameful number of offensive rebounds, and totally lost track of defensive assignments.
At halftime, Boston Celtic general manager Red Auerbach snorted, "It's a good thing they aren't playing a heady team like Princeton or they"d be down by 15 points.
When Driesell passed Auerbach after the game, he gave a "Why me, Lord?" look to he heavens.
"It's gonna be all right," commiserated Auerbach.
"Mentally we were not ready and they were," said Driesell. "It's tough to get up for a team that doesn't have its best player, but maybe I shouldn't complain. We might a got beat if he'd been in there.
"At times we looked awful good. At times . . .," he paused, "ragged."
"Yeah, I said something at halftime. I looked like we just woke up and decided to play for a few minutes. Then we got a lead and everybody went their own way again."
Twice the 3-5 Hilltoppers cut their deficit to 10 points after Maryland Jumped out of 67-49, but WKU never made a genuine move.
"Considering that far and away our best defender, rebounder and scorer was on the bench in steet clothes, we did about all we could hope," said coach Richards.
"Maryland's a TNT bunch, typical of teams with great individual players who have never had to learn to pass and screen and help their buddy when they were in high school.