Duke far superior to UM, 104-72 No. 3 Blue Devils make 14 threes in worst loss at Cole since 1969-70

Hit 11 in 61-39 first half

Williams: In my 9 years, was probably the worst

January 04, 1998|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- The deficit was already 25 last night and Cole Field House had long been reduced to a sweaty, silent sauna. A lone voice could be heard, trying to intimidate Maryland's opponent as the Terrapins had been unable to do for much of the first half.

"We're a second-half team, Duke," the fan yelled. "We'll show up for the second half."

Maryland showed up briefly, a flurry of two possessions cutting the 22-point halftime margin to 17. But that's when the third-ranked Blue Devils reappeared, much the way they had in the first half, and continued to overrun the No. 20 Terrapins.

By the time it was over -- and this one was over long before the final buzzer, folks -- Duke had battered Maryland, 104-72. It was the worst defeat for the Terps since a 36-point loss to North Carolina in the 1993 ACC tournament.

It was also the worst home loss for a Maryland team since a 33-point defeat to South Carolina in 1969-70, Lefty Driesell's first season. Conversely, it was Duke's most one-sided road victory in the ACC since a similar 32-point win here 30 years ago.

"I didn't think we were ready to play tonight," said Maryland coach Gary Williams. "In the nine years I've been here, that was probably the worst we were competitively. The first couple of years when we had the [NCAA sanctions] and I had to start a couple of walk-ons, we were competitive. Tonight we weren't. It showed from the start."

That's when Duke hit its first four shots -- all from beyond the arc -- on a night it would set a season high with 14 three-pointers.

The loss was the second straight for Maryland (7-5, 0-2) and was certainly more disturbing than its previous four, all coming after the Terps blew second-half leads. Duke (12-1, 2-0) didn't give them a chance to self-destruct down the stretch.

The Blue Devils showed they can compensate for the season-ending broken foot recently sustained by burly freshman Elton Brand by becoming a potentially devastating perimeter-shooting team. Duke hit 11 of 17 three-pointers in the first half and 14 of 27 in the game.

"To their credit, they made their shots," said Williams, whose team made two of its seven three-pointers, 18 of 45 shots overall, and committed 20 turnovers. "But the defense didn't contest too many of them."

Freshman forward Shane Battier led a balanced attack, finishing with 18 points off a bench that outscored its Maryland counterparts, 46-4. Four other Blue Devils scored in double figures, including senior guard Steve Wojciechowski of Severna Park with 13.

After Maryland cut a 12-3 deficit to 12-7 and later 14-9, the Blue Devils scored nine straight points in a run that seemed to go on the rest of the game. In one stretch, senior forward Roshown McLeod hit three straight three-pointers. He scored 15 of his 17 points by halftime.

"We played an exceptional game," said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, whose team also hit 28 of 36 free throws. "Everybody we put in did something positive. That barrage [of threes] in the first half was key. When you're hitting threes instead of twos, that's a lot. It takes an exceptional effort to beat Maryland on its home court."

Junior center Obinna Ekezie led the Terrapins with a career-high 23 points. Senior forward Rodney Elliott tied his career high with 22. But with Maryland trailing by double digits for all but seven minutes, they were mostly moot points.

After cutting their 61-39 halftime deficit to 17 in the opening minute of the second half, the Terps fell behind by as many as 32 in the second half. It didn't even matter that both of Maryland's point guards, Matt Kovarik and Terrell Stokes, fouled out, as did Ekezie.

Junior Laron Profit didn't, but Maryland's leading scorer was basically a no-show. He finished with seven points, all on free throws, and missed all seven shots he attempted from the field. It was another ominous sign for the Terrapins, their most talented player disappearing in a big game.

"I'm not the coach. I don't call the plays," said Profit. "Once we got down, Coach wanted to get the ball inside. But that sort of limited what I could do offensively."

It had nothing to do with what Profit, or anybody else on Maryland, did defensively. Or didn't do. The Blue Devils scored on 11 of their first 16 possessions to build a 27-11 lead, and never looked back. They wound up scoring on 25 of 37 first-half possessions.

"We had some defensive letdowns against Missouri," said Williams, alluding to a four-point defeat to the Tigers in Columbia last Tuesday night. "We didn't play good defense again tonight. Without being pompous, that's something our teams usually do."

The Terrapins had better start doing it soon, beginning Wednesday night against a much-improved Florida State team that has discovered defense and discipline under first-year coach Steve Robinson. Williams was too much in shock to be overly distraught about the 15th-ranked Seminoles last night.

His players seemed stunned.

"Stuff like that can't happen," said senior guard Sarunas Jasikevicius. "It's embarrassing. I'm in shock. I don't how long it will take to recover, but if we don't recover in the next four days, it could happen again [against Florida State]."

NOTE: Freshman guard Juan Dixon was not in uniform last night, leading to speculation that Williams would redshirt the former Calvert Hall star who only recently gained his NCAA eligibility. Dixon had sustained a slightly sprained ankle last week during practice.

Williams' worst

B6 Maryland's worst losses under coach Gary Williams:

Season Opp. ........ Score Marg.

'92-93 N.C. ........ 102-66 36

'97-98 Duke* ....... 104-72 32

'90-91 N.C. ........ 105-73 32

'92-93 N.C. ........ 101-73 28

'94-95 Va. ......... 92-67 25

'91-92 Ga. Tech .... 92-67 25

'92-93 Wake ........ 88-64 24

* -- at Cole Field House

Pub Date: 1/04/98

dTC

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