Rapid Reaction: Maryland 64, Duke 71

Terps fall to Duke, but plenty to take moving forward.

WHAT IT MEANS: Rarely does a loss give a team confidence going forward, but the Terps now know how far they have come along this season. Earlier this year, against the likes of Illinois and Pittsburgh, the Terps did not play nearly as tough as they did on this night. Their chemistry has flourished, and to contend with the best team in the country on their home court is not something to hang your head on. They limited the third-best scoring team in the country to their lowest FG percentage in a game all season long.

Before the game, head coach Gary Williams underplayed the game’s meaning. It is just the team’s second conference game, their first one on the road.

“This is one game; I think people sometimes forget that. Win or lose, this isn't going to determine exactly where we finish in the league. We all understand that as a team and that's the first thing you understand going in there to play. This isn't the seventh game of the world series," Williams said, according to the university website.

But the Terps, at times, played knowing this game holds a significance of its own – rivalry, bragging rights and a gage of where the team is in terms of the ACC race. Only two other teams, last year’s national championship runner-up Butler and Miami have held two leads against Duke. On this tonight, Maryland added their name to that list.

STOGLIN GETS THE NOD: In just his second career start, Terrell Stoglin filled in as Maryland’s point guard. This time, it was not in the comforts of the Comcast Center, but in the unfriendly confines that is Cameron Indoor Stadium against the No. 1 in the land.

Stoglin did not let the atmosphere affect his shoot-first mentality. His three points, all in first half of play, tell the story for the entire team that struggled to get their shots to fall.

Like Gary Williams said following Stoglin’s first start, he’s a young player and he certainly is not perfect. Some of Stoglin’s passes were careless and his shot attempts were questionable, as was his decision to foul Seth Curry as he attempted a three, one of the fundamental lessons players are taught never to do. That foul cost Maryland their second-half lead.

A DEFENSIVE FIRST HALF: Maryland played their hearts out in the opening half despite being underdogs to tested Duke squad. Gary Williams’ team played tenacious defense, holding the Blue Devils to 32 points, tying a season-low in points scored in one half of play.

Jordan Williams led the scoring for Maryland with 12 points; his inside presence was too much for the Duke defenders to compete with. Kyle Singler did the same for Duke with 14 points, many times grabbing his own misses and getting the putback.

Maryland and Duke rank No. 1 and 2 in the scoring offenses in the Atlantic Coast Conference, so it comes as quite a shocker that the halftime score read 32-31. Both teams shot under 43 percent from the field and neither lit it up from beyond the arc. The Terps 20 percent 3-PT shooting was rivaled only by Duke’s 10 percent.

JORDAN WILLIAMS’ STREAK: Duke had no answer for the Maryland big man. It was important for the Terps to establish Williams on the interior as both a scorer and a rebounder. His 23 points and 13 rebounds led the team. The double-double was Williams’ ninth straight, still in contention to surpass Len Elmore’s school record.

The Blue Devils outrebounded the Terps in rebounding, a battle that Maryland had to win if they wanted to seize this game. Williams’ 13 rebounds also were a team-high. Forwards Dino Gregory (4 rebounds) and James Padgett (0 rebounds) needed to play a bigger role on the boards to allow the perimeter plays to play defense on the Duke sharp shooters.

TUCKER’S SECOND HALF: Swingman Cliff Tucker proves to be one of the best sixth men in the country. Of his 14 points, nine came in the second half, a trend of his as of late. Tucker shot over 46 percent from the field on the night, but at times his shot selection was questionable at best. He does, however, provide the team with bursts of scoring when he hits his stride. His two made three-pointers led the team.

Tucker picked up the slack for Stoglin and Adrian Bowie, who combined for just four points after both averaging in double-digits in the preview five games. Bowie had been excelling at the off-guard position before tonight.

SLOWING DOWN SMITH: Nolan Smith has been on a tear as of late, recording 20 or more points in five straight contests and shooting better than 60 percent from everywhere on the court. The Terps defensive focus to slow down Smith worked well in the first half, limiting the Duke point guard to seven points and three assists, as Sean Mosley and Cliff Tucker were up to the task for the most part.

Smith emerged late with 11 second-half points, finishing the game with 18, adding eight assists and seven rebounds. Maryland defenders did their best to hinder the Player of the Year candidate, forcing five turnovers.

STOPPING SINGLER: In a pick your poison-like situation, Kyle Singler was the man who took the game in their hands when it mattered most for Duke. Singler led all scorers with 25 points, including 53 percent from the field and 3-7 from 3-PT. He added 10 boards, a season high, as well.

Singler provided the Terps with a matchup problem because he can score from almost anywhere on the floor. He played down in the post, out on the perimeter, and many times he would grab his own boards and get second-chance points. He had four offensive rebounds on the night.

PERIMETER SHOOTERS: Coming into the game, it was Andre Dawkins who the Terps thought they would have to keep their eye on from the three-point stripe. And in their defense, they were absolutely right. Dawkins entered the game as Duke’s third-leading scorer behind only Smith and Singler, shooting above 53 percent on the season.

Dawkins’ slow start allowed Seth Curry more playing time, and boy did he seize the moment. Curry scored 12 points, including one three-pointer and 3-4 FG, and in doing so led a second-half run that brought Duke out of their largest deficit on the night.

SLOPPY ON BOTH SIDES: Despite Duke committing more turnovers, 17, than Maryland, 15, it seemed as if the road teams’ came at the most inopportune times. The ACC team with the best turnover margin allowed the Terps plenty of opportunities to capitalize, but they were unable to do so.

DUKE’S STREAK CONTINUES: The win was Duke’s 15th on the season, their 25th straight. The team played like a true No. 1 team did, overcoming errors to win at home against a tough opponent.

WHAT’S AHEAD: It gets no easier this coming week. In arguably the toughest stretch of games all season, the Terps will leave Durham, N.C. Sunday night to travel home before hitting the road to Winston Salem, N.C. for a Wednesday night showdown with ACC foe Wake Forest. Two days later they head to Philadelphia, Pa. to face No. 7 Villanova at The Pavilion.


Twitter: @Samspiegs

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