Feb 20, 2002
By PETE IACOBELLIAP Sports Writer
CLEMSON, S.C. – Juan Dixon sat at his locker, not sure whether to smile or sob.
“It’s been a tough week for us,” the Maryland guard said, “after the emotional win and the stuff with Coach.”
Moments after Maryland 87-73 victory over then-No. 1 Duke last Sunday, the Terrapins were hit with the news that coach Gary Williams father, William Williams, had died at age 85.
“Coach Williams is like family, for him to see his dad die and see the emotion on his face,” Dixon said. “You feel like crying.”
Dixon scored 14 of his 21 points in the second half as he and his teammates recovered from a sluggish start to beat Clemson 84-68 Wednesday night.
“The main thing is we wanted to come out here and not to lose the game,” Dixon said. “That’s what good teams, mature teams do, find a way to win.”
The Terrapins (22-3, 12-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) looked early like they were still caught between the emotional roller-coaster of beating Duke and seeing their coach in pain.
But Dixon, the ACC’s second-leading scorer, got hot in the second half and lifted Maryland to its ninth straight win over the Tigers (12-15, 3-11).
Dixon went 4-of-4 from the field and had 10 points in a 27-12 run that turned a one-point deficit into a 63-49 lead with 9:52 left.
Tahj Holden’s tip-in gave Maryland the lead for good, 38-37. Dixon followed with a jumper to make it 42-39, then he added a driving layup and put the game away with consecutive 3-pointers to make it 61-49.
Lonny Baxter closed the run with a jam off a pass from Dixon.
Williams was absent from practice Tuesday for his father’s burial.
“It was tough for them to concentrate. I wasn’t at practice. That’s not normal,” Williams said. “I think they missed me yelling at them.”
Clemson, which has lost 10 of 11, got no closer than 10 points the rest of the way.
Dixon moved past the 2,000-point mark for his career. His 2,013 leaves him 136 from catching the late Len Bias’ school record of 2,149. Dixon also became the NCAA’s first player with more than 2,000 points, 300 steals and 200 3-pointers.
“That’s quite an amazing accomplishment,” Williams said. “He plays hard and he’s been that way for years.”
Maryland, after going 11-of-35 from the field in the first half, was 19-of-30 over the final 20 minutes.
Chris Wilcox scored 14 points for Maryland and Byron Mouton added 13. Baxter had 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Tony Stockman led Clemson with 19 points.
“Up to about the 13-minute mark I felt good,” Clemson coach Larry Shyatt said. “It was 52-49 and I felt like we had withstood a pretty good Maryland run. But they got two or three easy lobs behind us.”
Maryland did not look like it did against Duke in the first half at Littlejohn Coliseum.
Dixon was 2-of-7 from the field, including 1-of-5 on 3-pointers. Steve Blake, who outplayed Duke’s Jason Williams on Sunday, had no points and four turnovers. The Terrapins, who are third in league in field goal percentage, missed 11 straight shots during one stretch.
Clemson used an 18-5 run to take a 27-20 lead with 5:38 remaining. Reserves Ryan Randle and Drew Nicholas, however, scored Maryland’s final nine points to make it 35-31 at halftime.
“The first half, maybe it looked like we weren’t prepared or ready for it, but we just weren’t making shots,” Blake said. “We played pretty good basketball.”
Blake’s first assist of the game made him Maryland’s career leader, breaking his tie with Keith Gatlin at 649. Blake, a junior, finished with nine assists and has 658.
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