Once again it was the defense that set the tone for coach Mike Krzyzewski's troops, and it was a good thing too as Duke shot only 34% from the field (25-of-59) and struggled to score for long stretches including an 0-for-11 drought in the first half.
With the offense struggling, the Devils forced 15 Maryland turnovers including 10 steals while holding the Terps to low field goal percentages throughout most of the game before Gary's bunch was able to find their range down the stretch and finish at 42% (24-of-59). Duke also blocked five shots, including three by Shelden Williams.
While holding Maryland's shooting percentage in check and challenging shots, the Blue Devils were also holding their own on the boards. In fact Duke flat out owned the glass by a 49-34 margin including a 24-10 advantage on the offensive glass. While the conversions were lacking on many offensive possessions, there's enough talent to win when your team is getting two and three attempts per offensive possession.
The strong work in the rebounding department earned Duke an 18-4 advantage in second chance points.
On a completely different note, it was great to see the Devils not intimidated by the Comcast Center. Last year with a bunch of freshmen on the roster Duke had the "deer in headlights" look from intermission on, and quickly fell behind. On this night the Devils answered each and every Terrapin spurt when the hostile crowd seemed to be aching for any reason to explode.
What Went Wrong:
Plain and simple: Duke had a rough night shooting the ball against Maryland. Overall the Devils managed just 34% from the field including several long droughts. Had it not been for the defense, this could have been a third straight loss.
While he was automatic from the outside, you can tell Duke is still looking to get the big guys involved a bit more on the offensive end. Shavlik Randolph and Shelden Williams, while great rebounders, are still looking to get their offensive games going. On the game Duke managed to tie Maryland with 32 points in the paint.
Player of the Game:
Heading down the stretch we were weighing the option of naming Chris Duhon as the game's top performer. After all the senior point guard finished with eight points, eight assists, seven rebounds, two steals, and just two turnovers, but it was J.J. Redick's big play down the stretch including a critical steal that earns him the nod. It didn't hurt that he hit for 26 points either. For that Redick takes home the honors.
Did You Notice:
Luol Deng managed to post a nice statline of 13 points and 12 rebounds despite shooting a paltry 27% from the field (5-of-18). Deng is showing why he'll thrive from a few years under the tutelage of Coach K. The 6-foot-8 freshman continues to show flashes of just how good he could be, he just has to figure out how to get there night in and night out. It's a lot like watching Grant Hill develop.
The Blue Devils will stay in the Capitol area for this weekend's game against Big East foe Georgetown. The Hoyas have been scrappy this year and will be playing in front of their home crowd, which is likely to house some disgruntled Terp faithful. For Duke to protect the nation's top ranking it's going to take another solid defensive effort.
We'd like to see a break out performance from Shavlik Randolph and Shelden Williams inside, which would give Duke a big leg up heading down the final stretch of the first half of the ACC schedule next week.