For the second straight day the Blue Devils established an inside game in the form of Shelden Williams, for which their opponents had no answer. The inside scoring presence led to the offense having more room to operate as the perimeter defenders were forced to collapse on Williams, leaving Duke's slashers and shooter room to operate.
The sophomore big man led the charge on the glass, and in the scoring coloumn as Duke continued to get chance after chance on the offensive end thanks to 15 offensive rebounds. All those second chances allowed Duke to not only dictate the pace, but also continue to draw fouls on the Tech interior – leading to more opportunities for Williams in the paint.
In total the Blue Devils' ability to get close looks resulted in 52% shooting from the floor and 46 points in the paint. Led by Williams, Chris Duhon, and Luol Deng, Duke was able to score on an amazing 20 of their final 22 possessions to put the game away.
Duke also took care of the ball, turning it over just six times in the entire game, while upping their assist total to 15 on 28 made baskets – a much better ratio than was logged in the opening round against Virginia.
Defensively the Blue Devils' key to success centered around Williams ability to stay out of foul trouble. With a true shot blocker and space eater in the middle, the high-pressure defense was able to overplay the passing lanes, making it difficult for Tech to get an open look.
What Went Wrong:
Perhaps the main criticism that could be offered is the performance at the free throw line, though it was offset by the numerous offensive rebounds. However Duke was only able to covert 67% from the line after shooting over 80% the night before. Even J.J. Redick missed his fifth free throw of the season.
Also, if you are a Maryland Terrapin, you have to be concerned that Duke's offense is rolling along without the presence of the team's leading scorer, J.J. Redick. For the second straight day Redick was rendered ineffective thanks to early foul trouble. He shot just 1-of-4 from long range, while missing his fifth free throw of the season.
Player of the Game:
For the second straight game the play of Shelden Williams was an easy pick as our TDD player of the game. Should the Blue Devils find a way to beat Maryland in tomorrow's final, it is nearly a lock for Williams to take home tournament MVP honors. On this day he also set a new single season record for blocked shots, adding another three to bring his season total to 99.
The Blue Devils look for a sixth straight title tomorrow afternoon against a Maryland team that refuses to roll over and die. In their first two games, both upset wins, the Terps have been all but finished before late rallies propelled them to victories. That attitude stems from their head coach, Gary Williams, who would love to thwart Duke's record breaking attempt.
To be successful the Devils will need to once against keep Williams out of foul trouble while establishing him on the inside. Maryland's interior isn't as good as Tech's and if Duke looks to work inside, they should have success. It will also allow the Devils to get either Redick or Ewing open looks from the perimeter.
Defensively Duke will need to force the ball out of John Gilchrist's hands as Gary Williams really doesn't have another ACC caliber ball handler on the roster. Also look for the Luol Deng – Caner-Medly match up to be key. If Duke can do all of this it should be another Sunday afternoon on the podium at center court.