ATLANTA, FEB. 17 -- Georgia Tech Coach Bobby Cremins was embarrassed.
The Yellow Jackets had just finished thrashing Maryland, 104-82, tonight before 8,106 at Alexander Memorial Coliseum, and Cremins, who is something of a perfectionist, was almost devoid of anything to complain about. But he tried to come up with what he could.
"We didn't play any defense in the second half," Cremins moaned, without even blushing.
What Cremins was crying about was a stretch of the last 20 minutes when Maryland came close to cutting Georgia Tech's lead to 16 points. Yes, 16 points.
This game was close for about five minutes, and even then, Georgia Tech was ahead all the way.
"We just couldn't stop them," said Maryland Coach Bob Wade, who had said Tuesday that he thought his team would need to win four of its last six games to get an NCAA tournament invitation. "Now it's whatever I said, minus one."
The 104 points by Georgia Tech marked the most the Yellow Jackets have ever scored in an Atlantic Coast Conference game and the most Maryland had allowed since 1979. Georgia Tech scored 104 against North Carolina in 1970, which was 10 years before they joined the ACC.
Maryland has now lost 10 straight to Georgia Tech, and the margin of the defeat was the largest since the 26-point loss on Dec. 5 at West Virginia. The Yellow Jackets have won four in row to stand 18-6, and 5-4 in the ACC.
For only the second time all year, Georgia Tech had six players in double figures. Cremins even used two players who hadn't been off the bench in any of the previous eight conference games.
Senior forward Tom Hammonds led with 21 points. Freshman Dennis Scott started the game with a three-pointer and had 16 points at halftime. He ended the game with a dunk at the buzzer to finish with 20.
Duane Ferrell had 19, Brian Oliver 15, Craig Neal 13 and Anthony Sherrod 10. Neal made 13 assists, and now has passed for 65 baskets in the last five games.
The Terrapins, meanwhile, are down to 13-9, and 4-6 in the ACC.
The lone ray of sunshine for Maryland was the play of freshman center Brian Williams. But even that was bittersweet because Williams spent the last six minutes of the first half on the bench with three fouls. He did hit 10 of 13 shots from the floor and five of five from the line to finish with a career-high 25 points.
"I was pleased that I played the last 13 minutes with four fouls and didn't foul out," Williams said. "As for any other aspect of the game, it was horrid."
The Yellow Jackets were up by 29-19 with 7:13 left in the first half, when the game really got away from Maryland. Scott hit a three-pointer and Williams picked up his third on the same play. Georgia Tech then outscored Maryland by 15-7 to take a 47-26 lead with just over a minute left in the half.
"The key was the first half," said Cremins, whose team had a 45-29 rebounding edge for the game.
Georgia Tech led, 47-28, at the intermission, and eventually built its lead to as much as 26 points. Maryland came as close as 17 several times. Asked if it was his worst defeat, Wade said, "I don't talk down on my kids."
As in the first game, which Georgia Tech won, 96-83, at Cole Field House, Maryland started with a press. And like the last game, Georgia Tech went through as if the pressure was nonexistent.
"We handled it rather well," Scott said. "We got the ball up and got some easy layups. Before the game we thought they might go box-and-one on me or Duane. They tried to counter with Derrick Lewis on me.
"I just kept moving and got the open shots."
Lewis was one of five Terrapins who tried to guard Scott in the first half, and said later, "He's definitely a good player. But it's still five on five."
And it may not get easier. Now Maryland must play North Carolina on Saturday in Chapel Hill.
"We were saying four out of six," Lewis said of Maryland's perception of its tournament needs. "Now, maybe we've got to say one out of one, and not worry about the tournament. Maybe then things will fall into place."
Iowa St. 102, Missouri 89:
In Ames, Iowa, Lafester Rhodes scored 34 points to snap out of a shooting slump and Jeff Grayer added 27 as the Cyclones defeated the No. 15 Tigers, breaking a seven-game losing streak.
Rhodes, who was 22 of 58 in the four previous games, was 12 of 20 and grabbed 13 rebounds. The Cyclones (17-9, 3-7) shot 65 percent in the second half.
Lee Coward scored 24 points for Missouri (16-6, 5-4), which had won seven of its previous eight and was coming off an 81-79 upset of Nevada-Las Vegas. Derrick Chievous scored 21 points in the loss.
Richmond 69, James Madison 55:
Mike Winiecki sparked an 18-2 second-half surge that propelled the host Spiders (18-6, 8-3) to a Colonial Athletic Association victory over the Dukes (8-16, 3-8).
With George Mason's loss at William and Mary, Richmond took sole possession of first place in the CAA.