February 24, 1999
CU vs. UM Audio · Clemson coach Larry Shyatt on the Tigers postseason chances. · Laron Profit on what the Terps need to do as tourney time approaches. · Steve Francis on the Terps offensive efforts.
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) – Opponents are finding out it’s not wise to get Steve Francis fired up.
Motivated by an altercation early in the first half, Francis scored a career-high 32 points as No. 5 Maryland set a school record for regular-season victories with a 77-60 win over Clemson on Wednesday night.
Francis was 11-of-15 from the field and 6-of-6 from the free-throw line. He also had five dunks, eight rebounds and six steals for Maryland (24-4, 12-3 Atlantic Coast Conference), which also tied the school record for ACC victories in a season.
“Steve showed his superior talent tonight. He’s got great ability in a lot of areas,” Maryland coach Gary Williams said. “He’s shot the ball better in practice the last couple of weeks, and it really showed up tonight. When he’s open, he’s taking the shot. He had stopped doing that for a while.”
Francis was coming off a 22-point, six-dunk performance against Georgia Tech. He got going in that game after a verbal exchange with injured Yellow Jackets guard Dion Glover.
This time it was a first-half confrontation with Clemson guard Will Solomon that jump-started Francis. Solomon committed a hard foul while trying to stop Francis on a fastbreak, and the players went tumbling into the basket support.
As Solomon was given a technical for unsportsmanlike conduct, Clemson coach Larry Shyatt rushed onto the court and had to be restrained by officials from going after Francis.
Shyatt also drew a technical and Morris made 3-of-4 from the line to give Maryland a 16-8 lead.
“It got me that much more excited,” Francis said of the incident. “You saw the foul … he hammered me on the head. I played through it, and I think it got my teammates more excited too.”
Francis said he had a run-in with Solomon when the teams met earlier this season at Clemson.
“That’s not the first time he’s gone after me,” Francis said. “He did it down at Clemson. I don’t know if he has a personal vendetta against me or what.”
Solomon said Francis grabbed him and intentionally pushed him into the cushioned support. Clemson center Tom Wideman started toward Francis and Shyatt said that’s why he hurried off the bench.
“I thought there was going to be a fight. I wanted to make sure I did my part to stop it,” Shyatt said.
Francis, who has scored at least 20 points three straight games, topped his previous high of 25 against Kentucky. It was the most points by a Terrapin since Keith Booth had 33 against Georgia Tech in 1996.
Maryland’s seniors have a four-year record of 83-39 and are heading toward their fourth NCAA tournament.
“I want to congratulate a tremendous senior class – a class of dignity and one that has brought tremendous honors to Maryland,” Shyatt said. “I thought they were excellent again today.”
It may have been the final home game for Francis, a junior who may enter the NBA draft after this season.
“I thought Francis was terrific. He probably hurt us with his eight rebounds more than anything,” Shyatt said. “He’s great both offensively and defensively. He plays with great emotion and he’s very unselfish.”
Laron Profit added 17 points for the Terrapins, who can set a school record for ACC victories with a win over Florida State on Saturday.
Tom Wideman scored 14 points for Clemson, which has lost 12 of its last 16 games. Harold Jamison had 11 points and 12 rebounds for the Tigers (15-13, 4-11), who fell to 0-8 on the road in the ACC.
Terrell McIntyre, who came in averaging 18.5 points in eight career games against Maryland, was held to 11 points on 4-of-13 shooting.
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