Maryland Win Was Big For Duke

After suffering a heart-breaking loss at home against Florida State, Duke bounced back against a very fired up Maryland squad.

The Blue Devils will be evaluated by their coaching staff more on their performances than their results and so with that in mind coach Mike Krzyzewski is mostly pleased how the Blue Devils have made it to late January.

They took a hard-luck loss with a last-second loss to Florida State, but the response was encouraging with a road victory at hostile Maryland. Perhaps one of the keys to this whole development will be how the Blue Devils respond with a home game against a St. John's team that has struggled.

"Overall, our guys have done a pretty good job," Krzyzewski said. "If you lose, you're busting it the whole game and you just lose, I'm very positive with our kids if that happens."

That approach can lead to something good.

The Blue Devils played spoilers at Maryland, winning 74-61 on Wednesday night when retired Maryland coach Gary Williams had the court named after him. Duke has burst bubbles of teams throughout the past couple of decades and it has largely prevented one upset loss from leading to another.

When Duke can find a way to win when some of their shots aren't falling, that's when it's most dangerous. The Blue Devils were miserable from 3-point territory (3-for-16) against Maryland, yet other aspects came together such as 17-for-18 free-throw shooting.

The Blue Devils haven't lost back-to-back games since February 2009. Their ability to avoid sustained dips has been one of their trademarks.

Several Duke streaks went by the wayside when the Blue Devils lost the home game to Florida State. But one streak remains in play and that's a 93-game homecourt winning streak against non-conference opponents. The last such setback came in February 2000 against St. John's, which happens to be the next opponent Saturday.

Blue Devils awful from long range against Terps
--Junior F Ryan Kelly made two of Duke's three 3-point baskets against Maryland and it was probably a good thing he had his shooting touch because the Blue Devils shot 18.8 percent from beyond the arc in the game. Kelly is a versatile player and he had a miserable game shooting in the loss to Florida State, so getting him back on track was one of the priorities against Maryland. He's a combined 13-for-18 from the field in the team's last two victories.

--Freshman G Quinn Cook, who moved into the starting lineup a few weeks ago, didn't play at Maryland as he hasn't returned to form after dealing with a bruised knee and then illness that limited his practice time. That put a pinch on the Blue Devils' backcourt options, and the only guard to come off the bench in the Maryland game was sophomore G Tyler Thornton. But Thornton was clutch by playing 29 minutes and supplying seven points without committing a turnover. Coach Mike Krzyzewski likes Cook's leadership and so the Blue Devils will want to find a way to put him back in the mix.

BY THE NUMBERS: 45 -- Number of consecutive home-court victories for Duke until Florida State pulled off Saturday's upset.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Whenever we got up seven or eight points, they always made a run and got back into the game or tied it up." -- G Seth Curry on Duke's inability to put away Florida State, which handed Duke its first ACC loss. Now every ACC team has at least one conference defeat.


--vs. St. John's, Jan. 28
KEY MATCHUPS: The Blue Devils have had some tussles with St. John's teams that haven't been highly ranked and this could be one of those assignments. The Red Storm's penetration can be troublesome, but Duke ought to have enough offensive answers, especially in the backcourt with G Austin Rivers, G Seth Curry and G Andre Dawkins.

ON THE SPOT: Junior F Mason Plumlee does this every so often and it certainly raises the expectations. He puts together a monster game and it tends to make observers wonder why he doesn't do it all the time. His double-double (with 23 points and 12 rebounds) against Maryland was an example of the type of performance that makes him considered one of the most well-rounded players in the country. He leads the team with 9.4 rebounds per game and his field-goal percentage of 61.7 is another reason why his efficiency is admired so much. But for the season, he ranks as only Duke's fourth-leading scorer with 11.8 points per game. The Blue Devils would like to be able to count on his production on a regular basis.

FUTURES MARKET: The Blue Devils may need to get junior F Mason Plumlee more involved in the offense. He endured some foul trouble in the Jan. 21 loss to Florida State and couldn't get involved in the offense, taking four field goals. Considering has made 61 percent of his field goals, he would seem to be a bigger offensive option. While his biggest impact has come on defense, his offensive role is something the Blue Devils will continue to examine.

--F Ryan Kelly has had some good games in a reserve, but it took time for him to warm up against Florida State on Jan. 21. He was scoreless eight minutes into the second half before scoring eight of Duke's 11 points in one stretch. He finished with 10 points in 24 minutes, which marked his shortest playing time in five ACC games this season.

--G Andre Dawkins is Duke's leading scorer in the five ACC games, averaging 15 points per game. His scoring average has been buoyed by making 17 of 34 three-pointers during the last four games.

--F Mason Plumlee, whose free-throw shooting had been a detriment for weeks, has broken out of that funk. He has made 10 of 13 foul shots in his last three games.

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