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Duke 69 Maryland 67

Quite an ending, if that's what it was. A Greensboro rematch is possible.

Jabari Parker's late dunk against Maryland will be remembered as one of the great plays in the history of Cameron.
Jabari Parker's late dunk against Maryland will be remembered as one of the great plays in the history of Cameron.
Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

What do you say after a game like that? See you around? Good luck in the Big Ten? What's airfare to Lincoln? As much as Duke fans like to say - and truthfully - that Maryland is not our rival, the fact is that Duke often brings out the best in the Terps, and sometimes the Terps bring out the very best in Duke. And that was certainly true in Cameron Indoor Stadium Saturday night.

For a good part of the game, it seemed as if Duke had full control of events. Then, in the second half, Maryland made a run. There were other runs, but Duke usually managed to keep a 4-9 point cushion.

Not this time. Dez Wells put his head down and scored 17 in the second half after being shut out in the first. He scored on drives. He got Amile Jefferson in no-mans land, where he couldn't go out any further to guard him, essentially taunted him and then shot a three right over him with 2:50 left. As it turned out, though, that was Maryland's last score.

And as the game wound down, Duke was playing tight, missing shots and clearly staggered by Maryland's imposing will. The Devils were on the verge of yielding. Rodney Hood's free throws gave new life, though. And then - that dunk.

That dunk. That dunk will live on for a very long time around Duke and its fans. Just as Wells toyed with Jefferson's comfort zone, Parker did with Jake Layman. He considered a three, pulled Layman out - and then blew by him for a massive one-handed slam.

When you consider Parker, he looks like a mildly thick kid, maybe a bit like Mark Aguirre or Dennis Scott before he got serious. Then you see an insane blocked shot or a one-handed dunk. And you realize that his hands are huge and strong and his arms - well, when he runs they don't look long. But when he's going after a block or dunk or rebound, it's like they telescope. And that's what it looked like in Cameron on that play.

It was as if his arm just shot up like Reed Richards. It was a breathtaking clutch play, and it put Duke up 68-67 with 1:19 left.

Then came the shot clock violation when Amile Jefferson didn't hit the rim with :21 seconds left.

Maryland got the ball back and then it was Charles Mitchell's chance to shine. And he came so close. Mitchell had two chances. His first was blocked by Parker. On his second, he rolled to the middle, where he was guarded by Rodney Hood.

For those of you who remember, it brought back the epic games in 2001, two of which Duke won because Maryland neglected to block out Nate James on late plays.

It wasn't a blockout but a fundamental misread. Mitchell outweighs Hood by 45 pounds and Hood had four fouls.

Mitchell gave up all his advantages, and made his hook shot that much more difficult, by jumping away from Hood and the basket, all of which left his coach, Mark Turgeon, jumping up and down in frustration. At the least, he had a shot of getting to the foul line.

The only guy who could get reliably get away with an unorthodox hook delivery in the clutch was the master of the hook, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. More typically, though, he either went straight up or leaned in. Look at his form. It's unbelievable, even now. It's almost zen.

But it was Mitchell's' mistake, and clearly it crushed him. For us, the image that will remain from this game was seeing Mitchell sitting on the floor, devastated, along with a couple of teammates, while Jefferson went to the other end to shoot free throws after corraling the rebound. He hit the first and missed the second on purpose. With less than two seconds, Maryland was in a hole too deep even for Syracuse's magical Tyler Ennis. Wells got off a shot, but it was a wounded bird, flying but weakly.

After the game, what a scene. Rather than handshakes, the players lined up and many of them hugged the way you hug someone who is leaving on a long trip and you don't know when you'll see them again. During the game there were several close encounters of the hostile kind; in the aftermath, it appeared there were simply winners, losers and regrets.

For many people, that's what this game came down to. Regret that Maryland's leaders had forced the Terrapins into a new conference when the fans were perfectly happy with the one they already had. Regret that the incredible history Len Elmore, John Lucas, Tom McMillen, Buck Williams, Albert King, Greg Manning, Juan Dixon, Steve Blake, Lonnie Baxter, Chris Wilcox, Grievis Vasquez, Alex Len, Wells and very nearly Charles Williams wrote is being cast aside. Regret that Duke, UNC, State, Virginia, Wake Forest, Clemson and Georgia Tech will no longer be on the schedule.

There was immense respect shown in that handshake line by both teams and it was earned respect, too. Both teams played with incredible effort and passion. It was, in short, a classic ACC game, something Maryland will soon never experience again. More's the pity.

We've heard from a number of Maryland fans in recent days, and to a man, they've all expressed regret. None of them wanted this. As much as they hate Duke - and we know it's a pure hatred but with some sense of honor and respect - they didn't want to say goodbye. None of this is their fault.

Needless to say, these aren't the bottle throwers or the people who taunted JJ Redick's adolescent sister, but people who love their team, treasure the ACC and are truly sad at the breakup. All our best wishes to them and deep respect for the effort their team showed. No one can deny that on Saturday night, Maryland's heart was magnificent. It's just that Duke had a little bit more.