Tonight, Maryland got a perfect tuneup for its opening-round match against Iowa in the Rainbow Classic Christmas Day.
The Terrapins did a little running, played a little defense and made the shots when they counted most in holding off outmanned Loyola of Baltimore, 88-74, before 6,102 at the Civic Center.
The second contest of the annual Baltimore Cup Games featured the scoring of Len Bias and Adrian Branch, who finished with 22 and 21 points, respectively; the rebounding and shot-blocking of freshman Derrick Lewis (nine rebounds, six blocks), and the passing skills of Keith Gatlin (11 assists).
Maryland Coach Lefty Driesell said he was pleased about his team's eighth victory in nine games, but not as pleased as he might have been.
"Maybe the long layoff we had (nine days) hurt us some," he said. "I thought our defense played excellent in the second half. Loyola is scrappy, with good athletes. But they scored more points against us than I would have liked."
That was because the Greyhounds (3-3), whose tallest starter is only 6 feet 5, were not intimidated by the more experienced, more talented Terrapins.
Two short Greyhounds -- 5-9 (with thick tennis shoes) Maurice Hicks (nine points, four assists) and James Tubman -- were outstanding in getting the ball through Maryland's pressure and into their teammates' hands.
Loyola played very well in the first 20 minutes, outrebounding the Terrapins by two and shooting well from the outside. Aubrey Reveley, formerly of St. John's High School in Washington, D.C., had 10 points, Tom Gormley eight and Vernon Hill seven as Loyola trailed by only 43-38 at intermission.
The second half served as a semihard scrimmage for Maryland. Bias, selected as the Baltimore Cup Games' MVP, and Branch took turns taking smaller defenders inside for easy baskets until the Terrapins' advantage had grown to a comfortable dozen points.
Maryland did tighten up considerably on defense, contesting every pass and jump shot. At the other end, Maryland was scoring with ease in running off a 20-8 streak, Bias getting six of the points, to take a 63-46 lead at the 10-minute mark.
Loyola tried Maryland one final time, scoring seven straight points to get the deficit to 71-59 with six minutes to play. Branch's seven consecutive points put the Terrapins up by 19 and ended any suspense.
In the first half, each team held the lead until Maryland, with Branch scoring on back-to-back breakaways and Bias making two short jumpers, turned a one-point deficit into a 10-point advantage with four minutes to play.
Lewis did his part by rejecting several shots. He, Branch and Bias were equally adept at getting second and third shots as Maryland scored four baskets after offensive rebounds.
Speedy Jones (12 points) gave Maryland its 10-point cushion with a dunk off a perfect alley oop pass from Gatlin (15 points). But Loyola sandwiched eight quick points around a nice three-point play and another alley oop dunk, this one by Bias, to cut the deficit to five points.
But Reveley (12 points), Brad Meyers (14) and their teammates couldn't get the shots they had in the first half and Maryland slowly pulled away.