GAME NOTES: Trying to stay within striking distance of the Miami-Florida Hurricanes, the second-ranked Duke Blue Devils invade the Comcast Center on Saturday for an Atlantic Coast Conference showdown with the Maryland Terrapins.
Mike Krzyzewski's Blue Devils took on arch-rival North Carolina this week in Durham and earned a 73-68 victory over the Tar Heels. With the win, Duke won its sixth straight game and moved to 22-2 on the year, including a 9-2 mark in conference play, two full games behind the Hurricanes in the league standings.
Mark Turgeon's Terrapins are coming off a rare home loss, falling to Virginia last weekend, 80-69. The loss dropped Maryland to 17-7 on the year, but a less-than-stellar 5-6 record in-conference. Still, the Comcast Center has been a safe haven for the most part, with Maryland boasting of a 14-2 record on its home floor this season.
Duke has faced Maryland more than any other out-of-state opponent with this being the 175th all-time meeting. The Blue Devils hold a 113-61 series advantage and have won six straight and 12 of the last 13 meetings, overall. Duke blasted Maryland at Cameron Indoor Stadium back on Jan. 26, 84-64.
It was another classic battle between two of the most storied programs in NCAA history, as Duke battled back from a seven-point second-half deficit to earn a five-point win in Durham. Mason Plumlee and Quinn Cook led the way offensively with 18 points apiece. Plumlee finished his 14th double-double of the season with 11 rebounds. Rasheed Sulaimon and Seth Curry joined the pair in double figures with 13 and 11 points, respectively.
One of the most talented offensive teams in the country, Duke is averaging hefty 78.0 ppg this year. The Blue Devils are shooting a solid .472 from the floor, aided from a .4-8 effort from behind the arc. The team has been without sharpshooter Ryan Kelly (13.4 ppg) for a while now, but there is more than enough talent to compensate. Plumlee has asserted himself as one of the premier low post players in the country, shooting .603 from the field and averaging 18.2 points and 10.8 rebounds per game. Curry get its done from the outside (59 3-pointers), netting 16.5 ppg. Cook (12.0 ppg) and Sulaimon (11.5 ppg) add to the perimeter assault.
Maryland doesn't possess dynamic scoring options like Duke, but the team is still an effective offensive squad, shooting a healthy .472 from the floor, leading to 71.4 ppg. Defense has also been a real asset for the Terrapins, who rank seventh nationally in field-goal percentage defense (.367), yielding just 61.8 ppg. Sophomore center Alex Len will give Plumlee something to worry about in the paint in this one. The 7-shooter leads the Terps in scoring (12.5 ppg), rebounding (8.0 rpg) and blocks (49). Fellow sophomore Dez Wells (12.0 ppg) has added to the team's frontcourt depth. Another sophomore, guard Nick Faust (8.3 ppg) ranks third on the team in scoring.
Maryland was just another in a long list of victims that struggled to generate offensive rhythm against Virginia, shooting just .355 from the floor in the first half, before upping it to .593 over the final 20 minutes. Wells led the team in defeat with 13 points. Seth Allen added 11 points off the bench, but the usually defensive-minded Cavaliers, turned it on offensively, shooting .542 from floor, including 11-of-19 from 3-point range.
The wins continue to pile up for Coach K, who will pick up his 950th in his career with Duke's next win. He shouldn't have to wait long, as the Blue Devils seem to have the Terps' number of late.