Adrian Branch was on and off. Ben Coleman couldn't always get the ball inside. But everywhere for Maryland yesterday was Len Bias.
When Georgia Tech pulled within seven points midway through the second half, Bias blocked a shot so violently it threatened to deflate the basketball. And at the other end of the court, his base line jumper deflated Georgia Tech and led Maryland to a 77-68 Atlantic Coast Conference victory at Cole Field House.
The Terrapins, 14-5 and 3-3 in the ACC, won their seventh straight game and gave Coach Lefty Driesell his 450th career victory.
"Just 450, is that all?" Driesell asked. "I thought I'd won a million."
Driesell seemed more pleased with the play of Bias, the 6-foot-8 freshman forward from Northwestern High, who scored a season-high 19 points and blocked three shots in 32 minutes off the bench.
Shaking his head, Georgia Tech Coach Bobby Cremins said, "Bias picked a great time to come out of his shell."
Coleman, who recorded a career-high 15 rebounds, scored 14 points and Branch finished with 19 and four assists. Herman Veal had 12 rebounds.
George Thomas led the visitors with 18 points.
Tech's Mark Price, the ACC's second-leading scorer at 19.4 points per game, scored 16, but only five in the first half. A third of his field-goal attempts had been from three-point range.
But yesterday, he made one of only three three-pointers and missed nine of 16 shots overall.
Price found himself smothered at every turn by Maryland's Jeff Adkins.
"I saw him get 30 points against North Carolina State and 26 against North Carolina," Adkins said. "I was a little worried. I knew I had to deny him the ball. He didn't get going early. The first priority was to stop him long enough for us to get the lead."
"Adkins did a good job," Cremins said. "They intimidated him (Price) well. Mark got a little frustrated."
Bias further frustrated the Yellow Jackets (8-10, 1-7). He made five of eight from the field, seven of eight at the foul line and did some major league intimidating on defense.
"His stock certainly has gone up," Driesell said.
Maryland led, 16-6, early in the game. But Branch missed five of six shots during one stretch, Adkins missed three three-pointers and Georgia Tech pulled even at 20-20.
Branch warmed up enough to hit two straight and Adkins hit a jumper at the end of the half to give Maryland a 37-28 intermission lead. The Terrapins started quickly in the second half, moving to a 46-34 lead on a Bias three-pointer.
"I'm starting to get adjusted to the ACC more and more," said Bias, who is more impressed with his improvement on defense. "In high school, I was all offense. I didn't play much defense. I'm still learning to do that here. I think our improved defense is the key to our winning streak."
Said Branch: "Lenny goes straight up, real high, and he has a soft jumper. He's starting to remind me of Gene Banks (former Duke star) in that he can play power with you, and also be the shooting forward."
Bias' development reflects the overall improvement of the Maryland bench.
"This is the most depth we've had in a good while," Driesell said. "We usually have the sixth and seventh (men) and not much more."
Has Maryland improved enough to be ranked?
"Yeah, I sorta think we deserve to be ranked," Driesell said. "There are some teams in the top 20 that aren't as good as we are."
Adkins said he doesn't care about being ranked, just about keeping the winning streak going next week at Wake Forest and Duke.
"When we lost to Duke (by 19 points)," he said, "I thought 14-5 would be impossible. Now, we've won seven in a row in the middle of the season."