Maryland, bigger and better even with Al King healing on the bench, kept most of its cool and withstood a late Penn State rally to prevail in Hersheypark Arena tonight, 69-61.
King watched Maryland's third victory in five games decked out in a three-piece, tan-striped suit and a navy blue tie, resting an injured left knee that he said "doesn't hurt that much."
Coach Lefty Driesell opted to hold King out of the game after a doctor here examined him tonight. He will be examined Friday afternoon by Maryland team physician Stanford Lavine. An appointment with Lavine Wednesday was skipped so King could take a test in one of his classes, but he had been expected to play tonight.
The Terrapins' primary hero was guard Greg Manning, back in the starting lineup at the site of the high school all-star games in which he dazzled two seasons ago and where he had his best game as a Maryland freshman. The sophomore from Steelton, Pa., scored a team-high 16 points, passed out three assists and had three steals.
Six of his points came consecutively in a 14-2 spurt in the first half that Penn State Coach Dick Harter called the key stretch of the game.
With the score tied at 23, Manning took advantage of a slew of Penn State miscues, scoring on a reverse layup to ignite the eruption that put Maryland up, 37-25.
The Nittany Lions, behind the shooting hand of freshman guard Mike Edelman (20 points), jabbed at the Maryland lead, cutting it to 61-55 with 3:23 left.
Remembering the way they had gone haywire in the closing three minutes of the Georgetown game, the Terps remained calm and got four points from freshman forward Buck Williams in an 8-2 run that put the game away. Penn State scored the last four points of the game, in the final 18 seconds.
The Terps had a height advantage over the 2-4 Nittany Lions, and Williams and center Larry Gibson made use of it, even though PSU somehow outrebounded the Terps. Williams scored 15 points, Gibson scored 14, had three assists and two blocked shots, and they each had nine rebounds. Ernest Graham, playing at King's small forward spot, hit 10 points.
Before Manning's surge, it was Edelman who lit a match to the nets, scoring 12 points in the first half as Penn State either led or stayed within two points for the first 15 minutes.
But when Edelman went cold, Penn State's offense went away and the Terps ran wild. Later, Maryland went to a two-three zone, gave everyone but Edelman the outside shot and collapsed two men on him when he got the ball in his little hangout: the left corner.
When Edelman was not scoring in bunches, the rest of Penn State's game seemed to follow suit, and Coach Harter, ever the defense-minded disciplinarian, noted, "There were three or four loose balls we didn't get. We like to get them all."
Harter, who has held only one 5 a.m. practice so far, was hired away from Oregon after last season to bring muscle and respectability to the Penn State basketball program that has paled so next to its football big brother.
"They (Maryland) seized advantage of our mistakes near the end of the first half, and late in the game they stayed well organized. Those were the keys to the game," said Harter. "Manning did a lot of good things. He's a tough player. I like him."
Manning was penetrating, hanging in the air as he often did last year as a potent freshman scorer, then playing out of position at point guard. With the arrival of this year's freshman point guards, Dutch Morley and Reggie Jackson, Manning's moves had begun to fade in some memories, his own included.
"I didn't have my shot early in the year. I lost concentration," said Manning. "But I have it back, now.
"It's always nice to let all these people from home know you can still play good."