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Jim Sumner On Duke-Maryland!

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Well, that's more like it. Whatever ailed Duke in a dispiriting loss to St. John's Sunday, seems to have been fixed. Duke hit its 3s, handled the ball with aplomb (eight turnovers) and received contributions from a variety of sources. Most importantly, Duke demonstrated a renewed commitment to defense, the foundation of Mike Krzyzewski's program.

Maryland badly needed a signature win, the better to impress the NCAA Tournament selection committee. They were playing at College Park, where Duke had come home winless five times from 2002 through last season.

So, everything was set up for a big upset. Instead, Duke took control midway through the first half, held off a couple of Maryland runs and won by a surprisingly comfortable 80-62 score.

Mike Krzyzewski gave freshman guard Tyler Thornton his first career start. Thornton didn't have a great game statistically. But his 28 minutes enabled Nolan Smith to play off the ball and his insertion in the lineup re-affirmed Krzyzewski's insistence on playing better defense.

Smith responded with the kind of game we've come to take for granted, 21 points, six rebounds, three assists. Smith has scored at least 18 points in Duke's last 13 points. Smith got some rare rest, a result of early foul trouble.

But Maryland couldn't take advantage of Smith's forced absence. In fact, Smith was on the bench for much of Duke's decisive first-half run. Seth Curry hit a big 3 off a Miles Plumlee offensive rebound to put Duke up 28-19, Thornton hit another 3 to give the Blue Devils a 31-21 lead, Curry buried a 3 in transition for 34-23, Dawkins a 3 for 38-23. All with Smith sitting.

Kyle Singler had the kind of big start Duke needed, jump-starting the offense, with half of Duke's first 18 points and helping to shut up the crowd.

But Singler also got some foul-induced bench time in the first half. With their two stars sidelined, Duke could have been in trouble. But, Duke's last 17 first-half points were scored by players other than Smith and Singler.

Maryland made a run late in the first half, aided by a bad last minute for Duke. The Terps cut a 38-23 Duke lead to 40-33 at the intermission.

The Terps had some momentum coming out of the locker room for the second half and the crowd seemed revitalized. But it didn't take long for to Duke to regain control. Duke got early defensive stops and hit some tough shots. Singler and Smith stayed on the floor and played effectively with three fouls and Duke expanded the lead to 14, at 54-40, with Singler carrying much of the weight.

Krzyzewski had to massage foul problems, especially with Ryan Kelly barely breaking a sweat due fouls. Maryland had one more run in them, The Terps finally hit some 3s, kept going to the line and cut the lead to 56-51, with more than nine minutes left. Gary Williams wasn't the only person sweating.

But again, Duke got clutch contributions from players-not-named-Kyle-Singler-or-Nolan-Smith. Mason Plumlee ended a four-minute scoring drought with a monster dunk and Andre Dawkins buried a pair of bombs from beyond the arc. The lead was back to 64-53 and Maryland never again cut the gap to single digits.

Mason Plumlee ended with 12 points and 11 rebounds, while Dawkins (11) and Curry (8) had solid games off the bench. Miles Plumlee had some big rebounds. It's tempting to anoint this as the coronation of the complementary players but we've been down the good-game, not-so-good game road a number of times this season. So, we'll see.

But a road win rarely is a sure thing in the ACC, certainly not in College Park, definitely not by 18 points. So one to build on.

Duke returns home for a pair of games against ancient rivals, North Carolina State and North Carolina. Duke has won three straight ACC road games after that loss at Florida State and faces nothing else like the just-ended run of four road games in five contests. Duke is 7-1 at the mid-point of the ACC season, maybe not the undefeated fantasy of a few weeks back but not too shabby.


Mike Krzyzewski is now 50-21 against Maryland, while Duke is 31-25 all-time in College Park.

The win marks the 15th consecutive seasons in which Duke has won at least 20 games; 26 out of the last 28. Mike Krzyzewski has coached 26 of Duke's 46 20-win seasons.

Mason Plumlee has at least 10 rebounds in his last six ACC games. He has 89 rebounds in eight ACC games, an average of just over 11 per game.

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