It was Maryland’s farewell trip to Cameron Indoor Stadium as a member of the ACC and it will be a place they won’t want to visit anytime soon after Saturday.
The Blue Devils used a strong second half to blow away Maryland 84-64 as they bounced back from the 27-point drubbing this past Wednesday at the hands of Miami. This was a game that Duke needed badly after they were completely embarrassed against the Hurricanes.
Freshman Rasheed Sulaimon came out on fire and never cooled off as he scored 25 points hitting 69 percent of his shots from the floor including 6 of 8 from behind the three point line. And it wasn’t just Sulaimon, Duke as a team shot 52 percent from the floor and 50 percent from behind the three point line a marked improvement over the 30 percent they shot against Miami.
Mike Krzyzewski certainly had to like the intensity and effort he saw out of his team when compared to the last game and he had to be happy with the play of his senior captains who were less than their normal selves against Miami.
Mason Plumlee chipped in 19 point and 7 rebounds including an amazing reverse dunk on a rebound late the the second half that fired up the Cameron crowd and the team. Plumlee played a strong, aggressive second half which was a positive against a large Maryland front court that outweighed and outrebounded Duke 42-31 on the game.
Plumlee got a lot of help from an increasingly improving Amile Jefferson who has become a force on the boards. He scored 11 points and grabbed 9 rebounds and played 24 minutes, only picking up three personal fouls, an area that has plagued him this season. Jefferson’s emergence is a big boost as the Blue Devils still learn to play without Ryan Kelly.
Duke also got 11 points out of Quinn Cook who also had 9 assists and 13 points from Seth Curry who didn’t score against Miami on Wednesday night.
If there is any criticism to be found it is that Duke’s bench only scored 5 points. And after playing 24 minutes and scoring 11 points against Miami, Alex Murphy played only 19 seconds in the entire game. His situation remains to be a mystery and it is hard to see if he will ever really be a contributor this season.
Still Duke couldn’t have answered the poor performance against the Hurricanes any better than drubbing one of their most fierce conference rivals by 2 points in their last game in Cameron as a member of the ACC. Maryland is slated to join the Big 10 conference and the two teams have had some classic battles in the series, Saturday was not one of them.
The victory should give Duke fans some piece of mind and even though they will most assuredly drop from the top spot in the Top 25 they likely should remain in the Top 10. Going forward Duke has to figure out how to play consistently without Kelly in the lineup.
Saturday’s game goes a little ways toward helping the team build some confidence but eventually they are going to have to go on the road and win some games in conference play away from Cameron. Duke will go on the road this week and play Wake Forest, a team that the Blue Devils already beat by 18 early, but that was with Kelly.
Duke improves to 17-2 (4-2 ACC) and is two games behind first place Miami. They are also now 2-2 without Kelly in the lineup a story line that will continue to be monitored every time they take the court.
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