All the deficiencies that were hidden so well during Maryland's fluffy early-season schedule were exposed today as North Carolina State overwhelmed the Terrapins, 74-53, in the first Atlantic Coast Conference game for both teams.
N.C. State's front line of 7-foot-5 Chuck Nevitt, 6-10 Thurl Bailey and 6-7 Scott Parzych dominated Maryland's front court the entire game. And Dereck Whittenburg, the Wolfpack's junior guard from De Matha, made 11 of 13 shots and scored a game-high 26 points.
State (6-0 overall and 1-0 in the ACC) used a 2-3 zone to stymie the Terrapins (6-1, 0-1). Maryland rarely worked the ball inside, and when it did, the Wolfpack front line was intimidating. The Terrapins spent most of the game taking off-balance, outside shots, and made only 36 percent. State shot 59 percent from the field.
Maryland had hoped to move into the top 20 by beating State, its first noteworthy opponent this season. But for all practical purposes, the game was over by halftime when the Wolfpack led, 31-17.
"I don't think we were overly optimistic," Maryland Coach Lefty Driesell said. "I just think State whipped our tails today. I hope one loss doesn't destroy our ball club. If it does, we ain't much of a club, anyway."
The suspense didn't last long today. Trailing, 14-10, with about 12 minutes to play in the first half, Maryland pulled within 14-12 on Charles Pittman's offensive rebound basket (he led Maryland with 15 points and nine rebounds). But in its next nine possessions, covering 9 minutes 3 seconds, Maryland did not score a point.
Whittenburg made eight points to lead the Wolfpack to a 28-12 lead two minutes before halftime. Maryland looked totally confused during that 14-0 stretch; every Terrapin on the floor made at least one turnover. State set the tone for the entire game with physical inside play.
"I don't know if I was scared or what," Herman Veal, Maryland's sophomore forward, said. "I thought I was better prepared than this. We need to get used to playing against height and size. It's the first time we've bumped shoulders with people 7-5 and 6-10."
At the start of the second half, the Terrapins failed to score on six straight possessions and fell behind, 37-17. State's biggest lead was 59-32 and Maryland never was closer than the game's final margin.
Every Wolfpack player interviewed said the team was wildly excited in anticipation of its first victory over Maryland in the teams' last four games. Whittenburg, whose baskets came mostly on jumpers from 22 feet or further, was especially happy. "When I go home (to Washington) for Christmas this year, I can laugh and smile."
There were no smiles in the Maryland locker room.
"We were sorry out there, and they played great," senior guard Reggie Jackson said. "And we got embarrassed as a result."
The 10,700 fans in Reynolds Coliseum screamed each time Jackson touched the ball. When he missed his first two shots and was taken out of the game -- Jackson played only 13 minutes -- fans began shouting: "We want Reggie . . . We want Reggie."
Jackson said the fans did not interrupt his concentration, but that he could not understand why Driesell pulled him so quickly. "I'm used to this," said Jackson, who was expected to provide leadership this season. "I missed a couple of shots and he took me out before I ever got a chance to get into the flow of the game.
"I think that was wrong. I never got into the flow of the game. When he took me out, the whole complexion of the game changed." Jackson had guarded Sidney Lowe well in the first 10 minutes. Driesell said he would rather not comment on why he benched Jackson.
Freshman Adrian Branch, who leads Maryland in scoring, made only five of 16 shots and scored 14 points. Jeff Adkins, also a freshman, made three of eight from the field.