Terps can't break through vs. Duke, lose, 80-62

  • Maryland's Jordan Williams, left, and Cliff Tucker sit on the bench during the last minute of the Terps' 80-62 loss to Duke at Comcast Center. Williams scored 20 points.
Maryland's Jordan Williams, left, and Cliff Tucker sit… (Baltimore Sun photo by Gene…)
February 03, 2011|By Jeff Barker, The Baltimore Sun

COLLEGE PARK — To warm up for fifth-ranked Duke, Maryland fans jubilantly practiced new cheers, donned free gold T-shirts and were told by coach Gary Williams how much he appreciated their devotion to his team.

The fans -- who seem to reach for new decibel levels whenever the Blue Devils are in town -- couldn't have been more primed. But the Terps -- eager for a win against a top team that had beaten them in seven of the past eight meetings -- couldn't contend with Duke's size and inside-out balance and lost, 80-62.

Maryland, whose fortunes rise and fall on defense, had held its previous three opponents to 40.2 percent shooting, including 29.2 percent on 3-point attempts. The Terps won all three games. But Duke shot 52.6 percent, including 43.5 percent on 3s.

"A very poor job defensively as a team," Williams said.

To win, Duke had to weather a Maryland comeback that saw the Terps trim a 15-point deficit to five in the second half.

A bank shot by Jordan Williams (20 points) pulled Maryland to 56-51. But Cliff Tucker missed a 3-point try, and, moments later, Duke's Andre Dawkins hit consecutive 3s to extend the lead to 64-53 with 6:38 left.

In beating Maryland (14-8, 4-4 Atlantic Coast Conference), Duke did the unthinkable -- it all but silenced the fans, if only for stretches of the second half when the Blue Devils pulled away.

The Blue Devils (20-2, 7-1), rebounding from a 15-point loss to St. John's, won partly because the Terps couldn't match up with Duke senior forward Kyle Singler. Singler had buried the Terps with 25 points in the teams' last meeting in January.

On Wednesday night, Singler scored nine quick points in a second-half burst that kept the Blue Devils ahead when Maryland had begun to chip away at its double-digit deficit. Playing much of the second half in foul trouble, he finished with 22 points.

It was important for us to play again," Singler said. "The last game we played was an embarrassing loss."

Said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski: "I think we played our best game since [freshman guard] Kyrie [Irving] got hurt. I think we had to because Maryland was primed to play an outstanding game."

Duke also won because it was able to stretch Maryland's defense by hitting outside shots. The Blue Devils made 10 3-pointers. Maryland made two.

"We needed to hit shots," said Jordan Williams, who was fouled repeatedly in the paint and converted 12 of 16 free throws. "I felt like they couldn't stop me without fouling me."

Maryland's lone victory against Duke in recent games came last season on Senior Night. The win ended with Maryland fans storming the court and enveloping the players. After the game, fans -- many leaving bars -- swarmed U.S. 1 and police made more than two-dozen arrests.

In December, Maryland formed a committee to develop new sportsmanship initiatives. Many of those were on display Wednesday night -- new cheers, free T-shirts intended to take the place of ones with lewd slogans, and videos urging respectful behavior.

In the first half, Duke raced to a 15-point lead as the Terps struggled to get production from their guards. Fifteen of Maryland's first 19 points came from its frontcourt.

Meanwhile, the Blue Devils -- taking advantage of second chances -- converted six 3-pointers in the first half. The Terps did not make a 3-pointer in the first half.

The sold-out contest had a big-game feel. Among those in attendance were Washington Wizards guard John Wall and former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda.

The pre-game pep rally at Comcast Center was closed to the media. But some of those who were there quoted Gary Williams. "We've got to get rid of that '[expletive] Duke' cheer," the coach said, using the word.

Williams told fans he appreciated their support. He said the university has been criticized when fans' post-game celebrations verge on rioting.

"You've got to help us," the coach said. Some of the fans still did the profane chant during pre-game introductions.

jeff.barker@baltsun.com

twitter.com/jeffbarkersun

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