The Duke Blue Devils stay in the 2013 ACC Tournament came to an abrupt end yesterday after a disappointing, almost shell-shocking loss to the rival Maryland Terrapins 83-74. Coach K was unsurprisingly seething following the loss to the Big Ten-bound Terps, and this loss for Duke was a complete surprise to me. I never thought the Blue Devils would lose this game, because they played so well with Ryan Kelly back in the fold against the then-best ACC squad in the Miami Hurricanes and their bitter rivals in the North Carolina Tar Heels. But their other rivals did the job, and they did it by out-rebounding and out-shooting Duke.
Doing both isn’t easy, but Maryland did just that. The Terrapins shot 51% from the floor and had 36 rebounds, while Duke had a meager 26 boards and shot 41.5% from the floor. More importantly, Duke hit just four of 25 (!) three-pointers for a putrid 16% clip from downtown, and that is very un-Duke-like.
Ryan Kelly, of all people, led the charge by chucking up an 0-6 line from deep, while Tyler Thornton went 1-5, Quinn Cook went 1-4, and Seth Curry went 2-7. Curry’s percentage was actually decent compared to what his teammates were doing (only player to hit multiple threes), but he also took the most three-pointers and a 28.6% is still quite poor.
As for rebounds, Mason Plumlee naturally led the team with seven of them. But outside of Plumlee, only bench star Rasheed Sulaimon had more than five (he had six). Sulaimon and Plumlee were, incidentally, the best players on Duke in this game, and they controlled the inside. Duke realized that their best shot was to take it inside, but their better second-half (especially offensively) was not enough to overcome a terrible first-half on offense and an eight-point deficit. Why? Because Maryland played even better on offense.
It all starts with Dezmine Wells, who was absolutely on fire with 30 points on 9-13 shooting. He hit all ten of his free throws, and he had four teammates notch exactly ten points to help him. But it was Wells who carried this team on offense, and he also added six rebounds and three assists. Maryland controlled the boards, and they also had some excellent ball movement.
The interesting thing is that Duke only turned the ball over six times, and that’s what helped to keep them in it. The funny thing is that Mason Plumlee was the only true turnover culprit, as he lost possession of the ball a whopping four times, where as Cook and Thornton were the only Duke players to ever turn over the ball. But Plumlee also had 19 points on 8-12 shooting, and fellow big Sulaimon had 16 on the same number of shots (he made six).
Seth Curry, Rasheed Sulaimon, and Mason Plumlee were the only three players on Duke who played well, while the rest of the team was quite poor. Meanwhile, Dezmine Wells had a transcendentally great game for the Terps, and he had solid performances from Alex Len, Jake Layman, and Seth Allen to help back him up.
It is a crushing loss for Duke, but it shouldn’t affect their seeding much. They just had a difficult time shooting the ball against a team that was knocking down a very high percentage of their shots. Duke will no doubt be disappointed by the loss, but now is not the time to overreact and call Duke “phonies”. In my opinion, they are still right there with Miami as the best team in the ACC. But at this point in time, Miami is looking like the slightly better team, since they rely less on the shot.
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