Like recurring nightmares, Al King's injuries and North Carolina's Tar Heels come back to haunt Maryland.
Tonight they arrived in tandem.
With ease and computer precision, North Carolia defeated Maryland a ninth straight time, 102-79, in the most one-sided game ever played in the semifinals of the 26-year-old Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
And it was one-sided from tip-off of final buzzer.
Playing their first tournament game following a bye, the Tar Heels were dazzling. They set picks, picked off Maryland passes, shot 62.5 percent and defensively confounded the Terps so completely that they made only seven of 29 field-goal attempts the first half.
The Terrapins never were in this game, falling behind, 20-9, and hitting just two field goals in the first 10 minutes.
And in an replay of last year, King, the team's undisputed force, was hampered with a sudden injuey after a brilliant first-round game against Clemson.
When the Terps came out of the locker room at halftime trailing, 43-29, King was not among them. He was still in the training room, having a painfully swollen toe worked on. He walked into the arena gingerly after play began.
His toe began to hurt this morning and was nearly incapacitating by game time, just as his back spasms had begun the morning of the semifinal last year.
"I just wish I could have contributed more," said King. "It's like a jinx. Just like last year. I'm just going to try to forget about this game."
King played 24 minutes tonight but was not the same dynamo who had scored 50 points and was the coach on the floor in Maryland's previous two games.
The Tar Heels' heroes were too numerous to count.
Mike O'Koren, the second-team All-ACC player, had 12 points, five assists and seven rebounds. Forward Al Wood, first-team All-ACC, led with 19 points and made eight of 10 shots, many of them open behind the last in a series of picks.
Maryland had 23 points from senior center Larry Gibson, who never has been on a tem that has beaten Carolina. Six points came in the last 1:43 after North Carolina Coach Dean Smith had gone to his reserves, digging past the second string "Blue Team" to a lineup that has not yet been assessed a particular color.
At one point Maryland might have gotten back into the contest.
Carolina led, 35-25, with 6:03 left in the first half and the Terps had the ball and a chance to cut the lead to eight.
Ernest Graham (seven for 19 shooting) lobbed a pass from near the lane to the baseline trying to hit John Bilney. Wood picked off the ball, leading to two free throws at the other end by Pete Budko.
On the next Maryland possession, David Colescott stole the ball from Graham near midcourt, raced off for a layup and it was 39-25.
"All I can say," said Maryland Coach Lefty Driesell, "is North Carolina just played super. We started out hitting one of our first seven shots. I can't remember a team of mine shooting that bad."
Driesell, talking softly and cordially to press corps he feels often misjudges him, now is 5-18 against North Carolina since coming to Maryland.
But the Terrapins (18-10) came out so flat that perhaps nothing could have prevented the slaughter.
"We tried everything at them," said Maryland forward Bilney. "They played their best and we played our very worst.
"They played super. Great. I've never seen them play like that."
"We have a lot more talent (than UNC)," said Maryland guard Greg Manning, still not 100 percent after cracking a verterbra last week. "But you don't win on talent alone.
"They played sound, fundamental basketball. I really don't think we came out as intense as they did. We might have panicked a little bit falling behind early. We just didn't seem like ourselves."
While Carolina (22-5) looks forward to Saturday night's championship game, Maryland can only hope for a bid to the National Invitation Tournament.
There was sympathy for the Terps on Carolina's side.
"We knew we had control and they seemed to know it, too," said guard Ged Doughton. "There is a feeling of compassion for another athlete on a bad night. We've all had nights like that.
"When bad things like that start happening, you have to be extremely mentally tough. Maryland seemed to let it bother them too much."