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COLLEGE BASKETBALL / POSTSEASON TOURNAMENTS : MIDWEST REGIONAL : Michigan Teaches Maryland's Kids a Lesson in Winning

March 26, 1994|MARK HEISLER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

DALLAS — Kids.

You know how they are today, you can't tell them a thing, so Michigan's Wolverines, less than enchanted at the suggestion they had passed any torch, showed Maryland's precocious Terrapins what real pressure was.

The Fab Four, who reached the last two NCAA finals as freshmen and sophomores, finally have some of that experience they've always heard people say they were missing, and it's not half bad.

They held the Terrapins, who started all freshmen and sophomores, to one field goal in their last 13 shots in the first half, took a 21-point lead and held on to win, 78-71, Friday night to advance to the Midwest Regional final against Arkansas.

The Razorbacks start two sophomores and a freshman, themselves, so the Wolverines willsee if they're up to another spanking.

The ballyhooed duel of centers went the same way, Michigan junior Juwan Howard outscoring Maryland's freshman of the year Joe Smith, 24-12.

Afterward, Howard, the nice Wolverine, consoled Smith.

"He told me I had three more years of this," Smith said, "not to put my head down, keep working hard in the off-season."

For the Terrapins, the off-season is here after an improbable tournament run. The young team, coming off a four-year NCAA probation and a two-year tournament ban, finished the season with eight losses in 12 games, then surprised St. Louis and No. 2 seeded-Massachusetts.

The Terrapins came from 10 points behind to overturn Massachusetts and set about another rally Friday.

A gritty second half of pressing cut the Michigan lead to 75-69, but Jimmy King's steal and layup with 1:33 left cut it off.

"We came back," said Maryland Coach Gary Williams.

"That was typical of the way we played this year. Nobody blew us away this year. If we could have gotten a little closer, it would have been interesting."

The winner, Michigan Coach Steve Fisher, made a subdued appearance at the postgame press conference.

"We did not play well (at the end)," he said.

"That may be an understatement. . . . We're going to have to play better on Sunday.

"I thought we were going to win big tonight. We didn't. That might be a lot to the credit of Maryland. It's hard. It's harder than it looks to some of you to do that.

"So I'm going to say Maryland did a nice job of fighting and coming back."

And Michigan did a good enough job of hanging on.

"Michigan makes great decisions with the basketball," said Williams. "When they get in the open court, they usually score. I think that's their experience at this level. I don't know how you take that away from a team."

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