Originally created 02/11/99

Maryland loses center Ekezie for season

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Maryland center Obinna Ekezie had his troubled season come to a disappointing and premature end Wednesday when tests revealed he has a ruptured right Achilles tendon.

Ekezie, a 6-foot-10 senior, was averaging 12.7 points and 5.9 rebounds in his final season at Maryland. He had started 87 straight games for the Terrapins before being replaced in the starting lineup by freshman Lonny Baxter against Virginia on Saturday.

Ekezie hurt his heel late in Tuesday's practice, school officials said. A magnetic resonance imaging procedure Wednesday afternoon determined that he had a ruptured Achilles tendon. The seventh-ranked Terrapins played at North Carolina State on Wednesday night.

"Obinna has done a great deal for this program in the past four years, and he will be missed very much," coach Gary Williams said in a statement.

Ekezie, a native of Nigeria, scored only one point Jan. 31 at Wake Forest and followed that will a two-rebound effort against Duke. That caused Williams to shake up the lineup and replace Ekezie with Baxter, who keyed a second-half surge that helped Maryland pull away to a 77-62 Atlantic Coast Conference victory over the Cavaliers.

Ekezie came off the bench to score eight points and grab six rebounds in a season-low 17 minutes. It was only the third time in his last 17 games that he failed to score in double figures, but this season his scoring and rebounding averages are lower than they were a year ago.

Still, Ekezie currently ranks fourth on the team in scoring and is second in rebounding and blocked shots.

Although he never played basketball before coming to the United States before his senior year of high school, Ekezie on Dec. 12 became the 34th player in school history to top the 1,000-point barrier. He scored 1,172 points in his college career.

He is one of only four Terrapins to record 1,000 points, 600 rebounds and 100 blocked shots.


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