North Carolina got 24 points from J.R. Reid, showed poise when Maryland did not and defeated the Terrapins, 71-65, in front of 14,500 at Cole Field House.

The Terrapins were pointing to this game, hoping to show that they are ready to challenge the top teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference. But when it finally started, they couldn't shake the jitters and trailed all the way.

"I think everyone was really up for this game," said Maryland's Derrick Lewis, who had 13 points. "It was North Carolina. They're ranked No. 2 and we were playing at home. The intensity was so high, you couldn't believe it. Maybe we were too high. You've got to be able to relax. That was one of the keys early in the game."

Maybe the key.

Maryland (9-4, 2-1) couldn't get into any rhythm on offense and tossed the ball away. Actually, both teams did that in the first few minutes, but the Tar Heels settled down much more quickly. The cushion they built was more than enough to hold off several Maryland rallies.

The Tar Heels (12-1, 1-0), who have won 12 of the last 14 times they have played in Cole Field House, took a 20-6 lead through the first 11 minutes. The Terrapins, who trailed by 34-26 at halftime, cut the lead to five just after intermission, but couldn't get any closer. North Carolina led by 15 points later, but got sloppy in the last few minutes, enabling the Terrapins to close at the end.

"We flunked," said Maryland Coach Bob Wade. "We played very poorly. We executed poorly and our defensive rotation was poor. We didn't do a good job getting our big kids involved in the game. Tony Massenburg was never involved."

Massenburg was shackled with two large Tar Heels defenders. With Reid in front and Scott Williams behind, Massenburg was held to two points on one of four from the field. Freshman center Brian Williams had even fewer opportunities, but hit all three of his shots to finish with six points.

"We played the best basketball we've played all year tonight until the last five minutes," North Carolina Coach Dean Smith said. "I was impressed with our poise on the road and our defense in the the first half."

Reid, who had 16 in the second half and was nine of 11 from the field, led all scorers. In the first half, when the Terrapins were controlling Reid, Jeff Lebo hit for 13 points; he finished with 17.

Lewis had 13 for Maryland, as did Steve Hood, whose three-point play cut the Tar Heels' lead to 34-29 just after halftime. With Rodney Walker (sprained ankle) and Cedric Lewis (mononucleosis) in street clothes, Dave Dickerson was the only front-court reserve for Maryland. He was pressed into duty early, as Lewis got his third foul with more than nine minutes left in the first half.

Dickerson finished with 11 points. Rudy Archer was the other Terrapin in double figures, finishing with 10 points. But it was a frustrating night for Archer, who hit just four of 15 (two of eight from three-point range).

"Everyone was a little tense," Archer said. "We were thinking too much about winning and not just playing like we should. Carolina took us out of our game. We didn't take advantage of a lot of opportunities and made a lot of bad judgments."

Early in the game, Lebo hit a three-pointer for a 7-2 North Carolina lead. And after an exchange of turnovers, Archer fed Williams for a basket to cut the North Carolina lead to 7-4 with 16:13 left in the first half. But the Terrapins went 5 1/2 minutes without scoring a point and North Carolina scored nine straight.

Lebo went by Archer for a layup, and about 90 seconds later fed Rick Fox for a basket. North Carolina's Peter Chilcutt grabbed Lebo's miss and scored. Another Maryland turnover and Maryland called time out.

"We called time and told the kids to relax," Wade said. "We began to press because our shots wouldn't fall."

The timeout didn't help much. The Tar Heels, who were without guard Ranzino Smith because of a thigh bruise, were getting help from all quarters. Fox drove for a basket and a 15-4 lead.

"After the first few minutes," said Lebo, "all the jitters went away and we started playing like we were capable."

After Hood's three-point play cut the North Carolina lead to 34-29 with 34 seconds gone in the second half, the Tar Heels again showed their poise. Though not all at once, they first stopped the Maryland surge and then extended their lead.

Lewis had scored to cut the lead to 53-46, but the Tar Heels answered with eight straight points for a 61-46 lead with 9:44 left in the game. Tar Heels turnovers made it close at the end.

"We were waiting for {Maryland} to explode," Reid said. "But it never really clicked for them."