Duke's duo of Redick, Duhon one tough combo

January 22, 2004|By MIKE PRESTON

COLLEGE PARK - Duke guards J.J. Redick and Chris Duhon are back-breakers.

Duke, the nation's No. 1 team, played a ragged offensive game last night, but it still escaped College Park with a 68-60 victory at Comcast Center.

Why?

Rebounding, Duhon and Redick. Maryland was pushed around under the boards, especially on the offensive end, and those second chances kept allowing Duhon more opportunities to run the offense and Redick more shots.

It turned out to be the difference for Maryland (10-5, 1-3 Atlantic Coast Conference), which faced an uphill battle most of the night but kept having Redick and Duhon push the game out of reach at crucial times.

It happened early in the game, and it happened late.

Duke (15-1, 5-0) came into last night's game with a balanced scoring attack but struggled from the floor late in the game. But in the end, Redick and Duhon came through.

With 42 seconds left in the game and Maryland within three points, Terps guard D.J. Strawberry had position on Redick in the low post, but Redick stole the ball. He was fouled nearly nine seconds later and hit both ends of a one-and-one to increase Duke's lead to 65-60.

Fifteen seconds later, Redick grabbed the rebound of a jump shot by Maryland guard John Gilchrist, then connected on two foul shots to virtually finish off Maryland.

It wasn't a sensational night for Duke, which shot 33.8 percent. But Redick and Duhon kept stepping up - and on - Maryland. Redick finished with 26 points, including 5-for-6 from three-point range. Redick was also 9-for-9 from the foul line and had six rebounds. Duhon was only 4-for-13 from the field, but he had eight points and eight assists.

Afterward, it was a tired Maryland team because it had to keep fighting to stay in the game, but just as importantly, the Terps had to keep chasing Redick and Duhon.

It's not an enviable task.

Duke repeatedly sets screens and picks for Redick, one of those players who keeps running and running and running. Duhon, who can play either guard position, seems to have a knack for finding players and making last-second passes.

There were times last night, though, when Duhon repeatedly took Gilchrist to the basket for layups, the most crucial coming with 3:36 left after Maryland had climbed within 61-55.

Another problem Duke posed for Maryland is that the Blue Devils run a three-guard offense, with Duhon surrounded by two good shooters in Redick and fellow guard Daniel Ewing.

"Duhon has made a difference in that team," Maryland coach Gary Williams said. "He has committed to giving the Bobby Hurley look to that team, especially with two great shooters next to him."

The Terps didn't help themselves by getting clobbered on the boards by Duke, which held a 49-34 advantage. The Blue Devils had 24 offensive rebounds, and a lot of times forwards Luol Deng and Shelden Williams kept kicking the ball back out to Redick, who will one day make his living in the NBA by shooting three-pointers.

"Duke is not the biggest team we play, but [it] worked hard on the glass," said Gary Williams. "We have to play better. When you hold a team to 33 percent shooting, you have a chance of winning. They looked stronger than us. A couple of times they ripped the ball away from us, and that's got to stop."

A year in the weight room for the Terps will work wonders. But that's next season. Duke just kept getting more touches to finish off Maryland, and they have players who are finishers in Duhon and Redick. Maryland is trying to develop that killer instinct, but the Terps aren't there yet.

Gilchrist is, and he finished with 10 points. Forward Nik Caner-Medley finished with 21 points and played well down the stretch. But the Terps are still looking for more consistency. They are still searching for players who can bang underneath and players who can bail them out of trouble.

Duke already has two in Duhon and Redick. Redick opened the game with two foul shots and two three-pointers as Duke took a 10-6 lead with 15:37 left in the half. He had another three-pointer with 11:16 remaining and helped the Blue Devils to a 30-18 lead with 4:06 left in the half.

Duke opened a 14-point lead early in the second half, but Maryland cut it to 52-44 with 10:23 remaining. But Duhon stole a Gilchrist pass, which he converted into a layup for a 54-44 lead with 9:54 remaining, and then beat Gilchrist for an easy layup for another 10-point lead nearly a minute later.

The tandem combined for back-to-back baskets, including a three-pointer from Redick with 3:35 remaining, to push Duke's lead to 63-55 after Maryland had climbed within three.

"Last year, we kind of quit and let them do whatever they wanted," Duhon said. "This year, it was a tough, physical game. It was a battle out there. We knew they were going to make runs, and they made them. We were able to hold them off at the end, though, and I think that shows that this team is maturing."

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