March Madness: Remembering Maryland Basketball’s 2002 National Championship run

Mar 16, 2017; Orlando, FL, USA; General view of the Maryland Terrapins bench prior to the game against the Xavier Musketeers in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 16, 2017; Orlando, FL, USA; General view of the Maryland Terrapins bench prior to the game against the Xavier Musketeers in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports /

With Maryland basketball eliminated from the distinguished March Madness Tournament, let’s take a look back at the 2002 Maryland basketball championship team.

Maryland basketball has had their fair share of March Madness success, but nothing compares to the 2001-02 season when Maryland Terrapins men’s basketball team secured their first national championship in program history.

The National Championship team that included players Juan Dixon, Steve Blake, Lonny Baxter, Chris Wilcox, and Bryon Mouton is nearing the 15-year anniversary which is April 1, 2017. Another crucial member of the program’s first championship is the legendary Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams.

Here’s the complete depth chart for the 2001-02 Maryland basketball team:

The road to March Madness: 2001-02 regular season

After reaching the Final Four the previous season for the first time in program history the previous season before falling to Duke, Maryland opened the 2001-02 season ranked second in the AP preseason college basketball poll.

The Terrapins opened their regular season schedule at Madison Square Garden against Arizona in the notable Coaches vs. Cancer Classic Tournament. Despite the extra motivation from the season before, Maryland experienced an upset loss against Luke Walton and the Wildcats 67-71. The loss didn’t hinder the Terps confidence as they captured an eight-point win over No. 16 Temple to conclude the non-conference basketball tournament.

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Maryland’s victory over Temple triggered an eight-game winning streak that included a signature win against 2nd-ranked Illinois 76-63 at the captivating Cole Fieldhouse in College Park, MD. However, with just a few games before Maryland opened their ACC schedule, the Terps traveled to play a dexterous Oklahoma Sooners team, who was ranked No. 22 in the AP poll. Following a back-and-forth first half, the Sooners outscored Maryland 33-22 in the second half as the Terps suffered their second loss of the season.

After stringing together five straight wins, Maryland would finally meet their archrival Duke Blue Devils, who discharged the Terps from the NCAA Tournament the prior season.

After leading 49-48 at halftime in the highly-anticipated game at Cameron Indoor Stadium, Maryland looked disoriented and perplexed in the second half as Duke, led by Jay Williams, outscored the Terps 51-29 in the second half and eventually losing to Duke 78-99 as the Terps picked up their third loss of the season.

Following the devastating loss at Duke, the Terps would win 12 straight that involved resume-boosting wins at No. 21 Wake Forest and No. 8 Virginia and finally got their long-awaited revenge against Duke.

Maryland’s second and final regular season matchup against Duke was in front of Terps faithful at Cole Fieldhouse. Below is highlights from the game:

Led by Wilcox and Baxter, who both recorded double-doubles, Maryland collects their 21st win of the season beating Duke 87-73.

Maryland went on to end the regular season with 25 wins and three losses heading into the ACC Tournament in Charlotte, NC at the Bojangles’ Coliseum.

After blowing out Florida State 85-59 in the quarterfinals, Maryland’s 13-game winning streak came to an end after North Carolina State defeated Maryland 86-82 in the semifinals of the ACC Tournament.

Maryland basketball’s March Madness championship run

Despite the unexpected early exit from the ACC Tournament, the NCAA Tournament committee gifted Maryland with a 1-seed in the East region.

Maryland remained close to home in Washington, D.C. during the first two games of the tournament as the Terps dominated against 16-seed Siena and 8-seed Wisconsin. Advancing to the Sweet Sixteen for the second straight season, Maryland trounced 16th-ranked and 4-seed Kentucky Wildcats 78-68.

In the Elite Eight, Maryland’s next matchup was against 10th-ranked Connecticut, who was led by the Big East Player of the Year, Caron Butler. The sophomore, who averaged 20.3 points per game during the 2001-02 season, didn’t disappoint in Connecticut’s Elite Eight matchup against the Terps.

Despite Butler’s 32 points and seven rebounds in the Men’s East Regional Final, Maryland’s Baxter and Dixon combined for 56 points to send Maryland to their second straight Final Four appearance, beating Connecticut 90-82.

In arguably the biggest play of the game, here’s a video clip of Blake’s decisive three-point field goal with 26 seconds remaining as Maryland held on to a three-point lead:

Maryland joined Kansas, Oklahoma, and Duke in Atlanta, GA as the 2002 Final Four teams. The Terps would be paired with Kansas in the national semifinal and dug themselves in a 13-4 deficit with a little over 15 minutes remaining. However, Maryland stormed back to take a 44-37 halftime lead.

Maryland came out in the second half dominating Kansas and held a 20-point lead with just six minutes remaining. Kansas got within five points following Jeff Boschee‘s three-pointer with 2:05 remaining, but first team All-American Dixon hit a pivotal basket, extending the lead back to seven points with 1:14 left.

After Kansas extended the game in the final seconds to mount one last comeback, but Maryland was too much for the Jayhawks to handle, advancing to the 2002 NCAA Tournament Championship game.

A few days later in the National Championship game, Maryland dominated Indiana from start to finish for the 64-52 win as Maryland secured the program’s first-ever national championship, a team that will always highlight the Maryland Terrapins basketball program.

Relive the 2002 Terps National Championship as they celebrate their title run:

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Maryland ended the 2001-02 championship season with 32 wins and four losses after a memorable March Madness title run.