Jan. 26, 2002
By DAVID GINSBURG
AP Sports Writer
COLLEGE PARK, Md. – This time, there were no jeers. Only cheers.
Instead of sulking, Juan Dixon had reason to celebrate.
Playing one of the finest all-around games of his brilliant college career, Dixon had 25 points, 11 rebounds and eight steals as No. 3 defeated Florida State 84-63 Saturday.
Byron Mouton scored 18 points and Chris Wilcox had 15 for the Terrapins (16-3, 6-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), who won their 13th straight at home since dropping a 74-71 decision to Florida State last February.
Following that game, the last-place Seminoles pumped their fists, and Florida State guard Delvon Arrington jumped onto the scorer’s table as the Terrapins left the court to boos from the home crowd.
Dixon spent several hours alone in the team weight room that day, pondering the ramifications of the dreadful loss.
So, before tipoff Saturday, Maryland coach Gary Williams wrote on the board in the locker room: REVENGE.
“It’s something that happened. I didn’t like it,” Williams said of the hostile Cole Field House crowd a year earlier. “It really helped us, the booing at the end of the game. The players heard it too. We realized if we were going to turn it around it would have to be us.”
Maryland went on to its first Final Four and is 26-5 since that defeat.
The Terrapins pulled away in the second half behind Dixon, who finished 10-for-19 from the field and tied his career-high in rebounds and steals.
Dixon’s eight steals – one short of the school record – gave him 307 for his career and made him the first player in ACC history to amass at least 1,800 points and 300 steals.
When he left the game with the outcome no longer in doubt, Dixon was showered with cheers by the sellout crowd of 14,500.
“It means a lot to me, for the fans to applaud me like that when I’m playing well,” he said. “I just want to go out there and give them a good show.”
Anthony Richardson scored 14 points and Monte Cummings had 13 for the Seminoles (10-8, 3-4), who are 0-4 on the road in the ACC this season.
The Seminoles held the early lead, but Maryland took its first lead with 7:26 left and pulled away after halftime.
“For the first 10-to-15 minutes, I thought we played pretty well. I thought we did some good things, and our execution was there,” Florida State coach Steve Robinson said. “But we just couldn’t sustain it over the course of 40 minutes.”
Not against a Maryland team bent on revenge.
“It was really important, considering what happened here last year,” center Lonny Baxter said. “It was still in the back of our minds today, to come out and take care of business. We don’t want to send a message, we just wanted to win.”
Baxter, who scored eight points before fouling out against the Seminoles in the previous game, had 14 points and eight rebounds Saturday.
Maryland led 39-35 early in the second half before Wilcox hit a jumper off the glass and Dixon followed with a short jumper and a 3-pointer. Baxter scored the Terrapins’ next five points, capping the 12-2 spree with a resounding dunk.
It was 58-47 before Dixon contributed three baskets to a 14-0 run that put Maryland up by 25 with 7:43 left.
“They beat us here last year. They’re the only team in the country to beat Duke, so this was a big game,” Williams said. “That’s what I was worried about today – how good they are, not whether our guys would be ready to play.”
Dixon had 14 points and four steals as Maryland overcame a sluggish start to go up 39-33 at halftime.
The Terrapins missed 15 of their first 18 shots and trailed 11-6 until Dixon made two 3-pointers during a 12-6 surge that gave Maryland its first lead.
Playing its second game in three days, Florida State didn’t have enough energy to challenge the Terrapins in the second half.
“If we were at 100 percent and had five days’ rest,” Robinson said, “I’m not sure we could have been them this afternoon.”