Fortified interior lets Duke rebound


12 blocks is season high

Dixon 3-point dry spell reaches 21 straight misses

January 10, 2000|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- For any team that believed it could dominate Duke inside, the Blue Devils rejected that theory yesterday.

After giving up 100 points to Virginia four days ago, the Duke players invested a lot of pride in their interior defense and received high-reaching dividends, swatting away a season-best 12 shots against Maryland, the Atlantic Coast Conference's top shot-blocking team.

The Blue Devils clamped down on Maryland's best post players, Terence Morris and Lonny Baxter, who combined for a season-worst 13-for-38 performance from the field. The Terrapins tested Duke inside right away as Morris and Baxter took 21 of Maryland's first 39 shots. Nevertheless, the duo only produced six first-half field goals while Duke's Shane Battier countered with six blocks.

"We know teams think they can attack us and we stressed that this week," said Battier, a 6-foot-8 junior forward. "We wanted to come out and dictate the game from our defensive end. We felt today we controlled the inside and dictated a lot of shots."

Said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski: "When they had a few openings, I thought Shane kind of erased five or six baskets that were high-percentage scores for them."

Although Battier finished with seven blocks, most did not come against Morris, his defensive assignment. Battier made his major impact by turning away or changing shots with his help defense.

Duke rarely left Morris or Baxter alone on the blocks once they had the ball, and the Blue Devils felt that their constant double-teaming wore down Maryland's frontcourt. So while the Terps may say they take most of the blame for missing easy baskets, the Blue Devils want some of the credit, too.

"I think we stressed helping out more this week," said freshman center Carlos Boozer, who was also recruited by Maryland's Gary Williams. "We worked hard on establishing an inside presence."

Morris was limited to his second-worst shooting game of the season (6-for-15), and Baxter had a career-worst 16 misses (7-for-23). Baxter, who was giving up 10 pounds to Boozer, had trouble finishing inside, misfiring on his first 11 shots.

"I just tried to be physical with him," Boozer said. "I wanted to let him know I'd be there all game."

Shooting blanks

Maryland shooting guard Juan Dixon may have lost his shooting touch, but not his confidence.

The Calvert Hall graduate failed to convert on all three of his three-point attempts yesterday, extending his three-point drought to 21 consecutive misses. Dixon, who knocked down 12 three-pointers on his first 33 tries this season, has not hit from beyond the arc since Dec. 5 against George Washington, a span of seven games.

"All I have to do is hit one three and it'll be smooth sailing," Dixon said. "I've got to knock down that shot. There's no way I'm supposed to be shooting this poorly. I'm getting the opportunity to get open looks, and I'm not finishing."

Point of interest

In the first head-to-head meeting of the ACC's two top freshman point guards, Maryland's Steve Blake outplayed his Duke counterpart, Jason Williams.

Blake had 12 points, six rebounds, eight assists and only three turnovers in 38 minutes, his most enduring stint of the season. More importantly, Blake made six steals and caused fits for Williams, who had eight turnovers and only five assists. It's also the first time that Williams (six points) was held to single digits in scoring.

"I thought Blake played a very good game," Krzyzewski said. "Jason did not have the game he's capable of playing. He's got to learn to be stronger with the ball. We won't win a lot if he has eight turnovers. We also need to help him out, getting open when he penetrates."

Et cetera

Maryland's 34.1 percent field-goal shooting is its worst since Dec. 9, 1995, when the Terrapins connected on only 24.7 percent of their tries vs. UCLA. Maryland, which converted 47.1 percent of its free throws, recorded its most futile effort from the foul line since the 1998 ACC tournament, when the Terrapins missed on eight of their 13 attempts against North Carolina. The 85 shots by Maryland are the most since at least 1994. Duke won its 24th straight ACC regular-season game, the third-best streak in league history. North Carolina State (1972-75) and the Blue Devils (1962-64) share the record at 27 consecutive victories. The Blue Devils are 43-3 in their last 46 contests, and have won 11 in a row. It's only the fourth time this season that Maryland has allowed a team to shoot above 40 percent from the field.

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