Baxter leads Maryland’s comeback

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 7, 2000

The Associated Press

College Park, Md.

Monday, February 07, 2000

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College Park, Md. – Lonny Baxter was the obvious hero, scoring a career-high 31 points in an improbable comeback victory. Yet the 260-pound center had help from a skinny guard who, despite a poor shooting performance, paved the way for No. 23 Maryland’s stirring 78-73 win over North Carolina State on Sunday.

Although Juan Dixon missed 10 shots, his five steals, six assists and unyielding exuberance more than made up for his lack of accuracy.

”If Juan would mean that much to the team every game as he did today, I would take 5-for-15 every time,” Maryland coach Gary Williams said. ”Without his effort out there, there is no way we come back and win that game. He was kind of the catalyst to get us excited about playing basketball again.”

Maryland (16-6, 5-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) trailed by 17 in the first half and was down 73-68 with 2:59 left before scoring the game’s final 10 points. Dixon had two steals in the final 68 seconds to stem any chance the Wolfpack had of pulling out their first win at Cole Field House since 1989.

”You can’t put your finger on one thing, but sure, his steals were big,” NC State guard Justin Gainey said.

Gainey scored 21 points and Anthony Grundy added 16 for the Wolfpack (15-5, 5-4). NC State led by 12 with seven minutes left but ended up falling to 0-4 on the road in the ACC this season.

”We’ve battled on the road. It’s not like we’re just stinking up the joint,” NC State coach Herb Sendek said. ”Our guys have fought tooth-and-nail against some great teams on the road.”

In other games involving ranked teams Sunday, it was: No. 5 Ohio State 88, Michigan 67; No. 8 Tennessee 88, Mississippi State 81; and No. 22 Vanderbilt 76, Boston College 58.

A 3-pointer by Gainey made it 58-51 with 10 minutes left, and his two free throws sparked a 7-0 run that put the Wolfpack up 65-53 with 7:03 to go. Minutes later, Gainey hit two foul shots to make it 71-63.

Then, Maryland took charge.

Baxter made a three-point play and Terence Morris hit two free throws. After a basket by NC State, the Wolfpack’s Damon Thornton was called for his fifth foul on a charge and received a technical, too. Dixon made the two foul shots, then scored from the baseline to make it 73-72 with 2:33 left.

Asked to comment on the call against Thornton, an obviously distraught Sendek said, ”You know I can’t talk about that. Why even ask the question?”

No. 8 Tennessee 88, Mississippi St. 81

Tony Harris scored 14 of his 24 points over the final 6 1/2 minutes as the Volunteers (19-3, 7-2 Southeastern Conference) improved their league road record to 4-1. Robert Jackson had 27 points for the Bulldogs (12-9, 3-5), who were within three points with eight minutes remaining but couldn’t match Tennessee’s depth or Harris’ 9-for-10 effort from the free-throw line.

No. 22 Vanderbilt 76, Boston College 58

Dan Langhi scored 16 as the Commodores (15-4) matched last season’s win total by winning their 33rd straight non-conference home game, a streak that dates to a Dec. 30, 1995, loss to Boston College. Uka Agbai had 19 for the Eagles (9-13), who lost their ninth straight, matching the school record set from Jan. 2-31, 1990.