Maryland hoped to take away the perimeter from Duke in its first meeting.
It succeeded … and still lost 74-61.
The reason Duke had a measure of offensive success? Mason Plumlee dropped 23 points in the Jan. 25 game, spoiling Maryland’s stellar 3-point defense and leaving the Terrapins with a defeat before a packed crowd at Comcast Center.
The return game comes Saturday at Cameron Indoor Stadium, and it’s clear what Maryland must do on defense to have a chance of winning in Durham for the first time since 2007.
“Our post defense can be better. Our one-on-one post defense can be better,” coach Mark Turgeon said. “Keeping Alex [Len] in the game would help; he’s tall enough to guard those [Plumlee] brothers. Who knows. It’s going to be a different animal in that building than what we faced here.”
It wasn’t just Plumlee who mauled Maryland on the inside in the first meeting. He, Miles Plumlee and Ryan Kelly combined to shoot 17-for-24, totaling 44 points in the process.
Nearly all of the Plumlees’ points came close to the basket, and changing their looks is a priority for the Terps (14-9, 4-5 ACC).
“I think we have to be more physical,” senior Berend Weijs said. “I think we underestimated how physical they are. … We have to push them off the block, because their jump shot is less effective than their close-to-the-basket opportunities.”
One thing not to expect is a change in philosophy. Duke’s guards combined to shoot 1-for-13 from 3-point range, and the absence of a patented Blue Devil blitz from the outside allowed the Terps to stay within a couple possessions well into the second half.
“We’ll tweak a few things we think will help us,” Turgeon said. “I’d rather Plumlee score 22 than give up 15 threes any day. It still just wasn’t enough. I thought if we guarded that way, we’d win, but we weren’t good enough offensively to win.”
Or, it turned out, good enough defensively on the interior, either.
“Our post defense has to be better tomorrow to have a chance,” Turgeon said. “If it’s not good, it could be a long day.”
—- Patrick Stevens