Blue Devils go distance to run away from Terps Second-half breakdowns cost Maryland, 78-62

January 31, 1993|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Staff Writer

COLLEGE PARK -- The impression the Maryland basketball team left yesterday at sold-out Cole Field House was that the Terrapins are still too young, too thin and not quite talented enough to compete for a whole game with a team from the upper reaches of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

But the impression left by seventh-ranked Duke was just as telling: The Blue Devils still have a long way to go before they return to where they were a year ago, when they won a second straight national championship.

The final score -- Duke 78, Maryland 62 -- wasn't indicative of how competitive things were for all but 10 minutes. The Terps, trailing by only six points at halftime, were outscored 14-2 in the first minutes of the second half. The same kind of run by the Blue Devils down the stretch finished off Duke's 12th straight victory over Maryland (10-7, 1-6 in the ACC).

"I thought we did a good job of attacking Duke's defense at times, but against a team of that quality and that experience you have to do it for the whole game," said Maryland coach Gary Williams. "We have to get to the point where we can do that consistently for 40 minutes. The problem we had all year, and again we had today, is that we had some shots we needed to put down and we did not."

The play of freshman point guard Duane Simpkins summed up Maryland's performance. In 22 minutes, Simpkins had six points and six assists. He scored on a driving double-pump layup with 4.7 seconds left in the first half to cut what had been a nine-point deficit to 41-35 at halftime. But he missed six of eight shots, including a key three-pointer with the Terps down 62-53. He also committed four turnovers, some of them unforced.

"A lot of the offense starts with the point guard," said Simpkins. "Sometimes, I get off track mentally."

But it was not only Maryland's freshmen who had their lapses. Senior forward Evers Burns, the team's leading scorer and rebounder, had one of his worst games this season. Burns scored 12 points -- four in the last 1:40 -- and had only four rebounds. He also had four of the Terps' 17 turnovers. Combined with freshman forward Exree Hipp (two points, three rebounds in 36 minutes), they were out-rebounded by guards Kevin McLinton and Johnny Rhodes 14-7.

"I just didn't like the way I played today, not at all," said Burns. "I can't accept my performance, that's the bottom line."

With Burns struggling, it was left to McLinton to carry most of the load. McLinton, who has made a career of playing well against Duke, kept the Terps close for a while. The senior guard scored 14 of his team-high 18 points in the first half, to go along with a team-high nine rebounds and five assists.

But McLinton couldn't stop the Blue Devils from running off the first 11 points of the second half. The Terps, helped by foul trouble on Grant Hill and Cherokee Parks, closed the gap to 59-51 on a layup by Rhodes (15 points) with 10:21 left, but Bobby Hurley came right back with a key three-point shot. It is something Hurley has done throughout his career.

"It's just that I kind of feel a sense of urgency to get something done," said Hurley, who led the Blue Devils with 17 points and six assists, but shot four of 14 from field. "It seems like I concentrate on the road if the crowd is really loud."

The crowd got loud when Maryland closed to 64-55 on a layup by McLinton with 5:04 left, but it could not push the Terps any further. Duke (15-3, 4-3) scored the next six points in a 14-2 run that increased the lead to 21 points.

"We had our peaks and our valleys today," said McLinton, who gave the crowd of 14,500 a scare when he fell hard on his back after getting fouled in the second half, coming out for the only minute he missed. "You can't do that against a team like Duke. We couldn't maintain a consistent level for 40 minutes."

Truth is, neither could Duke. After seemingly taking a step forward in their overtime loss at Florida State Sunday, the Blue Devils took a step back against the Terps. While a

stretch of 12 straight field goals made in the first half helped Duke finish a respectable 29 of 53 from the field, the Blue Devils committed a season-high 21 turnovers.

Perhaps trying to be diplomatic, both toward Maryland and supportive of his players, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said: "I thought our team played really hard and I thought well. We did not value the ball all the time, but I think that had to do with Maryland's tenacity."

Said Hurley, a little more succinctly: "We obviously didn't take care of the ball too well. We're up 18 or 20 points, and we're not able to put teams away. We have to play more consistently for 40 minutes."

NOTES: Despite playing on a bruised left foot that was badly swollen Friday (X-rays were negative), Grant Hill finished with 15 points and nine rebounds. . . . The Terps don't play again until Thursday, when Virginia visits Cole Field House. . . . Coming in after McLinton went to the bench for a minute with a back injury, sophomore forward John Walsh saw his first significant action in a while, finishing with three points in nine minutes.

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