Maryland won its own tournament playing its own game last night, holding off disciplined Southern California, 83-79, at Cole Field House.

Al King and Ernest Graham each scored 20 points and center Larry Gibson added 16 while outplaying USC's heralded Cliff Robinson.

King, who scored 27 points in the first-round overtime victory over St. Joseph's, was voted the Maryland Invitational Tournament's most valuable player on 27 of the 31 ballots.

In the earlier consolation game, St. Joseph's defeated Holy Cross, 62-58.

Southern California never led after the first five minutes of the game, dropping to 7-3 overall.

Maryland, now 9-2, foiled USC's effort to slow the tempo, controlling the game with outside shooting from King and Graham and good inside play from Gibson, Buck Williams and King.

The Terrapins opened a comfortable lead midway through the second half, scoring seven straight points in a stretch when USC Coach Bob Boyd was assesssed a technical and Robinson picked up his third and fourth fouls and a ticket to the bench.

With Maryland ahead, 59-55, the streak began with two Graham free throws. USC missed a dunk at its end and Robinson was called for his third foul.

Boyd, who had been standing in front of his bench arguing, moved down the sideline toward midcourt to protest the Robinson foul vehemently, drawing a technical.

Dutch Morley made both free throws and, on the ensuing possession, Gibson was fouled by Robinson, who went to the bench.

Gibson made one free shot for a 64-55 lead and, with Robinson out of the game, Gibson scored from the lane on the Terrapins' next trip down for a 66-55 advantage.

A three-point play from a Gibson dunk put the Terps up, 80-73, with 1:46 left.

The Trojans, who by then had abandoned their patient passing game, got six quick points from Maurice Williams and a layup from Dean Jones cut the lead to 82-79 with 11 seconds left.

Maryland then brought the ball up through USC's back court press and Purvis Miller fouled Graham with a second left. Graham sank one free throw to finish the game.

Boyd was gone by the time reporters arrived to question him, but USC's game plan reportedly was to slow the tempo with a 1-2-2 zone defense (discontinued the second half) and a disciplined passing offense.

King and Graham broke the effectiveness of the zone with their outside shooting and USC, for some reason, did not work the ball into Robinson. The 6-foot-10 center was a magnificent spectacle, scoring most of his 12 points on leaping, fallaway jumpers, but the Trojans' inside game-the basis of their plan-was not there.

The Trojans shot 44.9 percent for the night, compared to Maryland's 52.6. The Terrapins' sharp shooting made up for their 22 turnovers.

"We played our game, fast tempo," said King, who had whiled away his time before the game signing autographs for his old high school coach. "USC wasn't able to slow the tempo.

"I'm surprised they didn't get the ball into Robinson more.".tMaryland Coach Lefty Driesell was also in a satisfied frame of mind. Someone asked him if his team was where he wanted to be.

"Yeah," said Driesell. "Exactly. But I'd rather be undefeated.

"We're coming along. We're playing well together. This is the second time this year we've beaten a team ranked in the preseason top 10 (the other was In. C. State."

Driesell spied Graham exiting from the shower and called to him, "Way to play, Ernest."

"Way to coach," Graham replied.

"Thanks, Ernest," said Driesell. "I'll pay you later."

The subject was brought up of Maryland's next opponent, George Washington, and the rumblings from that section of the nation's capital concerning Maryland's alleged inability to play defense.

"If they don't think we play good defense tell 'em to come on and play us," said Diresell. "Ask GW what they think of our defense after they play us.

"I always felt that the way to tell if you played good defense was the other team's shooting percentage. USC shot 44 percent. I think we played good defense.

"It was a good team win. Alert has been playing awfully well the last four or five games." CAPTION: Picture, Maryland's Larry Gibson leaps between Cliff Robinson (44) and Barry Brooks (14) of Southern Cal to tip in a rebound for a Terrapin score. Terrapins rallied in second half for 83-79 win. By Richard Darcey-The Washington Post