COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Gary Williams feared the worst. His Maryland Terrapins were coming off a huge win, hadn't played in a week and were facing a mediocre Georgia Tech team.
His concern was justified. The fourth-ranked Terrapins played poorly for 32 minutes Tuesday night and appeared ripe for an upset before pulling away to a 77-62 victory.
Maryland (17-2, 5-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) was playing for the first time since rallying in the second half to beat North Carolina on the road Jan. 13. The Yellow Jackets, meanwhile, had earlier lost to a Hofstra team that the Terrapins beat by 30 points.
``I was concerned from the standpoint that our players might not have respected Georgia Tech enough,'' Williams said. ``They had such a concentrated effort against Carolina to get back in it, and this might have been a little bit of a letdown.''
But Maryland got the victory anyway, closing the game with a 21-5 run after the Yellow Jackets forged into the lead with 8:24 left.
Terence Morris had 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Terrapins, whose sixth straight win over Georgia Tech was anything but easy.
``People think we're going to come out strong every game, but that's not going to happen,'' said guard Terrell Stokes, who had eight points and seven assists.
``I didn't think we played as hard as we could have played,'' Williams said. ``We can't get into that. There are too many good teams out there.''
The Terrapins won by forcing Georgia Tech into 27 turnovers and holding the Yellow Jackets to only two baskets over the final eight minutes.
``I'm just disappointed we didn't finish it off,'' Georgia Tech coach Bobby Cremins said. ``We let things get away from us. We just didn't have the poise and energy to keep it close at the end to give ourselves a chance.''
Maryland was 30-for-70 from the floor, 4-for-15 from 3-point range and frequently careless with the basketball.
``We didn't play good and we didn't shoot the ball real well, but we won by 15,'' said Steve Francis, who scored 14 points but missed eight of 12 shots from the field. ``There definitely were more turnovers than usual (19), but that comes with having a week off.''
Georgia Tech (11-7, 2-4) trailed 56-50 before reeling off seven straight points to take the lead for the only time. Maryland then went on a 7-0 run of its own, including a 3-pointer by Laron Profit that made it 63-57 with 6:14 remaining.
The sellout crowd at Cole Field House breathed a collective sigh of relief, but the Yellow Jackets weren't done. A dunk by Alvin Jones cut the margin to four points with 5:47 left, but that turned out to be Georgia Tech's final basket until only four seconds remained.
Profit scored 15 points for the Terrapins, whose 17-2 record matches the best to this point in school history.
Jason Floyd had 16 points for the Yellow Jackets, who have lost four of five. Georgia Tech was without reserve forward Ashley Kelly, who suffered a partially collapsed lung before the game and was hospitalized in good condition.