Follow Sam on Twitter
What it means: The loss of All-ACC guard Nolan Smith, arguably Duke's M.V.P. this season, the No. 5 Blue Devils held off the pesky Terrapins in their last-ditch effort to earn a bid to the N.C.A.A. Tournament.
After a nine-point deficit at halftime, Maryland charged out of the tunnel to come within one point of Duke before falling into a scoreless streak that lasted nearly six minutes. The loss noted the Terrapin's eighth loss against Duke all time in the ACC Tournament, an all-time mark of 8-9 against their rival.
Star of the game: With Smith injured and off his game for most of the evening, senior Kyle Singler starred in Duke's 87-71 win. Singler's 29 points led all scorers, and he added nine rebounds and a perfect 9-9 record at the free throw line.
Clean sweep: The loss in the semifinal round of the ACC Tournament marked the third time in which Maryland has fallen at the hands of Duke this year. Earlier this year, Maryland was defeated 71-64 in Durham, N.C., where, like tonight's action, the young Terrapins kept pace with the Blue Devils for much of the game. The other loss – a 80-62 mockery of the Terrapins at Comcast Center, the worst the team has taken on their home hardwood.
Defenseless: The defense that limited N.C. State to under 12 percent shooting from the 3-point line continued against Duke, limiting the team to just three makes all game. Cliff Tucker, in particular, did an outstanding job defending Nolan Smith, holding the All-ACC selection to just seven points, two makes from the floor and scoreless from beyond the arc.
The difference – failure to capitalize at the free throw line, a problem the Terrapins dealt with earlier this season but had executed splendidly as of late. While Duke recorded a 22-27 mark at the charity stripe, the Terrapins just barely shot over 50 percent. In 10 attempts, Jordan Williams hit just two free throws. On the night the team shot 15-28 at the line.
Due largely to forward Miles Plumlee, Duke was able to outrebound the Terrapins, helping to maintain offensive positions and capitalize on second chance points. Although Maryland – with the help of seven offensive boards by Jordan Williams – kept close pace with Plumee and the Blue Devils, they were unable to do the same on the offensive end.
What's next: The Terrapins will likely settle on an invitation to the N.I.T. after failing in their question to win four straight at the ACC Tournament. The young Terrapins finish the year with 19 wins, a solid campaign to build upon heading into the 2011-2012 season where star center Jordan Williams should develop even further in his junior season (if he opts to stay), and Terrell Stoglin, Pe'Shon Howard and Haukur Palsson will have an entire year of experience under their belt.