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Duke Shells Terps, 80-62

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As we said the other day, nobody gets more out of a loss than Mike Krzyzewski: Duke bounced back from the disaster in the Garden with aplomb, derailing Maryland, ruining Beat Duke Week, and possibly crippling the Terrapins NCAA hopes as well. All in all, a solid night's work.
Praise will go as it always does to Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith, but this was a really solid game from Mason Plumlee as well.  Plumlee finished with 12 points and 11 boards. The rebounding Duke's gotten used to; the aggressiveness around the basket was a pleasant surprise.

If he can build on this game, Duke is going to be in much better shape down the stretch.

In a bit of a surprise, rookie Tyler Thornton got his first career start, based we're sure on his aggressiveness and his willingness to defend.  On a couple of occasions, he let himself get overwhelmed in the backcourt, but in general Tiny Thor, to borrow Mr. Sensitive's delightful nickname, acquitted himself well.

The main negative in this game was that Ryan Kelly, who has been so smart so often this season, got suckered into foul trouble early and was off his game.  He only played six minutes.

It didn't matter, but it might have, since Smith and Singler and both Plumlees were also in foul trouble by the end of the game.  There was a point when it looked like Maryland, stymied for most of the game, might a chance to get back into  it if Duke had gotten into a bit more foul trouble.

As it was, Maryland cut a 15 point lead down to five with just under nine minutes to go in the game.  Duke pulled away again, but a couple of key fouls could've short-circuited that.

Still, the key thing here was character.  Everyone on Duke's side played hard and together.  Duke got nice contributions from Seth Curry, Andre Dawkins and Miles Plumlee as well as the starters, and when you get that kind of performance, a win generally follows.

You have to say a word about Maryland. Their fans can be incredibly irritating, but it's very difficult not to admire the effort with which their team plays. It's an imperfect bunch: they're lacking outside shooting, don't have any particularly explosive players at this point, and their upperclassmen are career role players suddenly thrust into demanding leadership positions.

Despite all that, you have to admit that they fight hard. Teams tend reflect their coach's personalities, and Gary Williams is nothing if not a battler.  He reminds you a bit of that great scene in Cool Hand Luke where Luke gets beaten to pulp but won't stay down. It's the guy's greatest attribute, and he's always managed transfer that to his teams.

It may be an NIT year for Maryland, but if it is, you can be sure that they will reach their potential.

Before the game, in passing, we saw Gary Williams say something about the St. John's game being a great chance for Duke to step up to another level. In earlier years, you kind of got the sense that Williams and K were so competitive that they just wanted to beat each other's brains in and it might have taken them a while to fully appreciate each other.

In recent years though, they seem to have grown to appreciate each other, and this was an interesting insight by Williams, who understood that Duke was very unlikely to come in and play poorly after the St. John's game.

Realistically, there wasn't a whole lot of his undermanned team could do to change the outcome. Yet despite their shortcomings, Maryland has done a lot with what they have.  Good coaching doesn't always mean great records. Sometimes you have to measure victory a little differently. And in  Maryland's case, they have one remarkable player and some reasonable role players.  It's not a special group, but it is very well coached.

With the win, Singler moves into fifth place on Duke's all-time scoring list, passing Danny Ferry, and Coach K moves his all-time win total to 888, just 14 behind Bob Knight's total of 902.

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