Boy, did the Duke Blue Devils need that blowout victory over a quality ACC opponent in the Maryland Terrapins. The Terps were high off of a buzzer beater win over the N.C. State Wolfpack, but they couldn’t carry that momentum yesterday against a Duke team that lost to N.C. State and was obliterated by the Miami Hurricanes 90-63. Maryland not only didn’t carry momentum into the game, but they also flat-out disappointed by allowing Duke to pour on 84 points in an 84-64 blowout victory that was never even close.
Duke desperately needed a statement win, and Coach K and the Blue Devils certainly made a statement by clearly playing more efficient basketball than their foes to the north. Freshman Rasheed Sulaimon was simply untouchable, and he went on an ungodly scoring run that punctuated his 25-point scoring day. You don’t see too many freshmen control games like that, but that’s exactly what Sulaimon did. Mark Turgeon and the Maryland defense had no answer for him, and it just seemed like he was hitting every shot in site in a 9-13 day including a ridiculous 6-8 from downtown.
Losing a star stretch forward that is the focal point of your offense in Ryan Kelly usually has a dreadful effect on the shooters, and we saw that first-hand in their loss to Miami. Jim Larranaga and the Hurricanes were able to do a better job of keying in on the shooters, but the Terps didn’t have any success quieting down Sulaimon from behind the arc. Seth Curry also added three treys, but the reason why Duke shot 50% from three (11-22) was because of Sulaimon.
Overall, the Blue Devils hit 52.4% of their shots, but the biggest reason why Duke won this game is because they only turned the ball over four times. When you have that low of a turnover rate, it bodes extremely well for your efficiency numbers and overall standing in the game because that’s less “lost” possessions and chances at getting a shot off.
Dezmine Wells had 13 points, eight boards, and two blocks for the Terrapins, and he and Charles Mitchell (13 and 7) were the only effective players on the losing side. Alex Len crashed the board with ten rebounds, but he was held to just six shots for eight points and was rendered ineffective by a more determined Duke defense spearheaded by Mason Plumlee, Curry, Quinn Cook, and the high-energy frosh Amile Jefferson (his three blocks were key). Len is usually a lot better than this, so you definitely have to give plenty of credit to this Duke squad.
Winning by 20 points in the ACC against a 15-5 foe like Maryland is rare indeed, and it is even rarer when the team that won was drubbed only a game earlier by 27. Duke bounced back in an impeccable way, and you really have to give most of the credit to the freshmen and Plumlee for stepping up after playing very poorly against Miami. Plumlee’s performance was as bad as I’ve seen him play in his college basketball career, and I bet that’s the worst it gets. That Miami loss was a big wake-up call for Duke, and they answered it with deft efficiency by obliterating a simply overmatched Maryland squad.
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