- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 22, 2004

Maryland and Duke come into today’s game at Cameron Indoor Stadium riding two-game losing streaks. That’s where the similarities end.

The third-ranked Blue Devils lead the conference and have designs on a national championship. The Terps (13-9, 4-7 ACC) are seventh in the league and in need of victories just to make the NCAA tournament. Maryland likely needs three wins in its last five games to earn an NCAA bid for an 11th consecutive season.

“We don’t get the results that I think we should get for as hard as we play,” Maryland coach Gary Williams said. “Because the game of basketball is pretty simply once you strip everything away: You have to put the ball in the basket.”

That’s something Maryland hasn’t done lately.

On Friday the Terps’ practice emphasized shooting, which was no surprise after the team shot a season-low 32 percent from the field in a home loss to No.18 Georgia Tech. Center Jamar Smith was 1-for-12 and point guard John Gilchrist was 1-for-7. The Terps also were an atrocious 3-for-20 from 3-point range.

“We’re not having a funeral,” said Williams, whose team is 2-2 in its last four games at Cameron. The Terps’ last win in Durham, N.C., on Feb.27, 2001, also was Duke’s last home loss — 39 games ago.

“It’s OK — we’re learning,” Williams said. “We’ll shoot the ball better as time goes on, because these guys are learning how hard it is to get shots off, how hard they have to run a play to get open, how well they have to run in transition.”

Against Georgia Tech, when Maryland ran a play successfully, somebody usually missed an open shot. And more often than not, offensive breakdowns lead to low-percentage shots as the shot clock winds down. The Terps are last in the ACC in field goal (43.8) and free throw (61.1) percentage.

“We make shots [in practice],” said shooting guard Chris McCray, who has made two of 19 3-pointers over the last six games. “We make free throws. It’s just different when you have all the fans and you have somebody flying at you hard who is trying to win the game just as much as you.”

Duke (21-3, 10-2) is sure to keep up the pressure in an attempt to rattle the reeling Terps. The Blue Devils, who lost at No.21 N.C. State and 15th-ranked Wake Forest last week, have not lost three straight since the 1995-96 season.

“We got a little soft during the winning streak,” Duke guard J.J. Redick said of his team’s 18-game win streak ended by N.C. State. “We just have to change our mindsets and attitude. We have to go out and attack people. We can’t be afraid to lose.”

The Blue Devils won the first meeting with Maryland 68-60 at Comcast Center on Jan.21 despite shooting 33.8 percent.

Point guard Chris Duhon leads the uptempo attack that will try to exploit Maryland’s transition defense. The Terps have allowed their last two opponents to shoot over 50 percent, mostly because they’ve been unable to stop the fast break.

Redick, who has made 50.5 percent of his 3-pointers over his last 16 games, was held to a season-low two points and missed all five of his field goal attempts playing with a strained hip against Wake Forest. He’s averaging 16.7 points and leads the nation in foul shooting at 97.1 percent (101 for 104).

“You have to be able to stay with Duke,” Williams said. “Forget the X’s and O’s — if you can’t run with them for 40 minutes you are not going to be able to win.”

And to do that, Maryland will have to make shots.

“We’re learning how to make plays,” Williams said “If you can make one more pass most of the time, [you get] a better shot. We are not making one more pass. We don’t see it yet, both in the offense and in transition.

“We felt we would shoot better than we have until now. But we haven’t. But you don’t go away because you aren’t doing that. And we are going to break loose. We are going to have a break-loose game where we are going to shoot the ball well.”

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