Duke survives final Maryland possession, wins 69-67

lkeeley@newsobserver.comFebruary 15, 2014 

— The shot that would likely determine the outcome of the final Duke-Maryland ACC game in Cameron Indoor Stadium hung on the rim. Bounced a few times, too. And then it rolled off and into Tyler Thornton’s outstretched hand, which tipped the ball to Amile Jefferson, who sealed Duke’s come-from-behind 69-67 win at the opposite free throw line.

“That was vintage Cameron, man,” Mike Krzyzewski said. “That was one for the ages.”

There was an extra emotional edge to Duke’s win. It was apparent throughout the game, and in the postgame press conferences, too.

“Yeah, I’m going to miss this like crazy,” Terrapins coach Mark Turgeon said. “What a great place to come play.

“We played tonight for Maryland. We didn’t play for ourselves. We played for all the former coaches, all the former players, all the former students, we played for Maryland. We knew we weren’t getting them at our place. This was our one chance. We know what it means to Maryland fans. I can’t be more proud of my guys. I every Maryland fan feels the same way.”

Emotions reached one of several peaks midway through the first half, when Turgeon barked at Krzyzewski after both came near the scorers’ table. Turgeon complained about a foul assigned to Dez Wells that he thought should have gone to Nick Faust. Turgeon did apologize and give Krzyzewski a little tap a few seconds later.

There was a Faust putback dunk slammed with so much authority that it might have blown the top of the Comcast Center, had it happened on the Terrapins’ home court. And Jabari Parker countered with his own highlight-reel dunk, a tomahawk slam that put No. 8 Duke (20-5, 9-3 ACC) ahead for good with one minutes, 17 seconds remaining.

And there was extra frustration, too, for D.C.-area native Quinn Cook, who at one point threw a water cup after being taken out after one of many poor decisions. Nate James had to squat in front on him, calming him down on the bench.

James, who played in the heyday of the Duke-Maryland rivalry at the turn of the century, showed more outward emotion than normal. One of his former opponents, Terrapins great Juan Dixon, got a hug from Krzyzewski as the Terrapins departed the Cameron floor one last time.

And maybe some of the extra edge was to blame for Duke’s shooting woes—the Blue Devils started 2-of-19 from the floor in the second half, losing the lead in the process, and needed until the 6:35 mark for Amile Jefferson to hit the third shot from the field and tie the game at 56-56.

Duke needed two more minutes before Rasheed Sulaimon connected from 3-point range—bringing the Blue Devils’ mark from behind the arc to 4-of-23—to put Duke back up 62-60. Krzyzewski and assistant coach Steve Wojciechowski jumped off the bench, fist pumps flying. At that moment, the “Not our rivals” chant from the Cameron Crazies before the game tipped was a distant memory.

The teams traded baskets before Wells—the Terrapins’ leading scorer who did not register a point until the 12:57 mark of the second half—nailed a 3 with Jefferson’s hand in his face. Two free throws from Jefferson cut it to 67-66 in favor of the Terrapins, and Jefferson wound up with a loose ball at the other end after Wells and the other Terrapins couldn’t get a shot off.

Parker had his dunk, then grabbed the rebound on the other end after a Wells miss to give the Blue Devils the ball back with less than a minute remaining. Jefferson missed a tough bank shot that didn’t hit the iron and triggered a shot clock violation, and Maryland would have one last chance with the shot clock off.

Charles Mitchell missed a hook shot in the final seconds, bouncing off the rim. He laid on the ground, staring at the ceiling, as Nick Faust and Wells crouched down up the court, in disbelief that the upset was not to be. Then, and only then, did the ACC chants begin.

Krzyzewski had said earlier in the week that his team was more susceptible to losing than previous Duke teams, that if the Blue Devils aren’t hitting shots, they’re in trouble. That was clear Saturday in Cameron, as the Blue Devils struggled to hit all evening, finishing with an 33.3 shooting percentage from the field and a season-low 20.8 percent from behind the arc.

But as the clock wound down on the once (and still) heated rivalry, Duke showed a mental and physical toughness that has developed over the past four months to come out on top.

“Over the years, those players and coaches and the teams that have shared these unforgettable moments, I don’t know what price—what it’s worth,” Krzyzewski said of Maryland abandoning the ACC for the Big 10. “Because it won’t be replicated.”

Keeley: 919-829-4556; Twitter: @laurakeeley

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