Al King and order returned to the Maryland lineup last night and, as a result, the Terrapins ended what they consider their "exhibition season" with an 82-71 drubbing of East Carolina at Cole Field House.
The Terps' intensity was apparent in the first half, their finest 20 minutes of the year, as a usually hidden Maryland element - defense - held the Priates to 39 percent shooting and helped build a 38-25 lead.
A Maryland malady - trunovers - presented itself only three times in the first half.
"I guess everyone knows the ACC is coming around," said King, refering to the Atlantic Coast Conference opener against North Carolina State Wednesday night. "The first real game is Wednesday."
The Terps will take a 5-2 record into that game.
King, who missed the last two games with a sprained knee, came off the bench with his left knee heavily taped. His 19-point, seven-rebound, four-assist performance led to speculation that a spring had been srugically inserted in the joint. King had his head in the ceiling all night.
Maryland Coach Lefty Driesell came up with yet another starting lineup to surprise the crowd of 8,635, putting Greg Manning at point guard and Billy Bryant at shooting guard - both firsts this year.
"I was just messing around," said Driesell. "It wasn't any great strategic move."
Bryant, in particular, and Manning have been hunting their confidence and Driesell apparently wanted to give them a little lift.
During the real season, as King calls it, Dutch Morley and Reggie Jackson will share the point, Ernest Graham (who started in place of King) will line up at shooting guard and King, if he has to be taped from his neck to his knees, will play at small forward.
East Carolina was a more disciplined group than the one that lost to Maryland, 130-106, last year. The Pirates, now 3-5, stayed in a 2-3 zone throughout the game, much to the delight of Driesell, who wanted to work against the zone his players will share into so often in ACC games.
In the first half Maryland passed through, drove through and gunned from outside the zone, sinking 15 of 28 shots. Gibson had seven rebounds and hit four of six shots in the first half.
As has been the case all year, Maryland lost a little in the second half, and with quick guard Oliver Mack receiving clearance to fly any route he pleased, the Pirates outscored Maryland 64-44, in the final 20 minutes. Mack scored 13 of his 19 in the second period.
"We still have to put two halves together," said Morley. "Our defense sloughed off in the second half."
"I'm still not real impressed with us yet," said Driesell, who had fumedover team's style of play a week ago, saying it would not win in th "big time".
"There's just something lacking," Driesell added. "We had control through the whole game, but we're just not busting the game open."
King said, "it looks like we're going to do okay. It was a good game. They just couldn't match up with us. We were just patient, getting the ball to the open man."
Maryland's 12 turnovers were the fewest this season and 19 baskets were set up with assits.