- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 22, 2004

Now the nation understands why Duke-Maryland is college basketball’s best rivalry. It wasn’t a game — it was a 40-minute joust.

No.1 Duke escaped Maryland with its top ranking intact for the first time in three years. The Blue Devils dominated early and survived a late Maryland comeback in a 68-60 victory before 17,950 last night at Comcast Center.

“You can’t give Duke that advantage early and expect to win,” Terrapins coach Gary Williams said. “I don’t understand why we play like that early. They wanted the ball more early than us. It’s going to cost us against a good team.”

Guard J.J. Redick’s 26 points led Duke (15-1, 5-0 ACC) to its 12th straight victory before a national TV audience. Forward Luol Deng added 13 points and 12 rebounds as he continues his bid for ACC rookie of the year.

Maryland (10-5, 1-3) lost its second straight before heading to Clemson (8-7, 1-3) on Sunday. Forward Nik Caner-Medley topped the Terps with 21 points, including 13 of Maryland’s 15 points during a futile late comeback. Center Jamar Smith added 12 points, but just three rebounds. Guard John Gilchrist scored 10 points with seven assists and six rebounds.

Duke’s offensive rebounding proved the difference. The Blue Devils had 24 offensive rebounds while Maryland had only 24 defensive boards. The extra shots fueled decisive second and third shots. The Blue Devils converted only 33.8 percent, but thrived off extra chances.

“They anticipated where the ball was going for rebounds,” Gilchrist said. “We couldn’t counter second shots.”

Said Williams: “Offensive rebounds killed us.”

It was a celebrity atmosphere as Maryland’s premier home game of the season attracted famed alumni like Tom McMillen, Len Elmore, Keith Booth and Steve Blake. Indeed, there were small reunions throughout the arena as the Terps’ biggest rival lured varying generations to basketball’s version of homecoming.

Both teams responded to the tension with tentative starts before Duke mounted a 19-4 run for a 23-10 lead with eight minutes left in the first half. The Terps tried to rally with four quick points, but Duke kept beating Maryland’s defense either underneath or with 3-pointers to control its double-digit advantage.

“We came out flat,” Terps guard Chris McCray said. “It’s disappointing. We didn’t do the things we did to win 10 games. We did the things we did to lose five games.”

The once-charged atmosphere suddenly held the passion of a midday tea party. The crowd thought it knew the outcome before halftime.

But the young Terps have proved fearless throughout a season that included No.1 Florida among its three victories over ranked teams. Maryland closed within 35-29 at halftime with an 8-2 run that included Gilchrist’s two free throws with 1.9 seconds remaining. Smith and Caner-Medley combined for 19 points at halftime after converting only three of 22 shots in the Terps’ previous loss.

Maryland opened the second half with a smaller lineup using guard D.J. Strawberry over forward Ekene Ibekwe in an attempt to blitz the Blue Devils. The Terps are best when using defense to fuel their uptempo offense.

“I thought we had a good feel at halftime,” Williams said, “but Duke came out strong at the start of the second half.”

Duke opened with a 12-4 streak for a 47-33 lead with 17:22 remaining. Two layups by forward Shelden Williams, two 3-point plays by Redick and Deng’s layup offset the Terps strategy.

Maryland’s pressure finally wore on Duke as the Blue Devils made several turnovers or fouls over a short stint to whittle the 16-point lead. Caner-Medley carried Maryland to within 63-60 with 1:36 left by scoring 13 points over eight minutes. Redick, who set an ACC record with 54 straight free throws before missing once on Saturday, made four more in the final 33.6 seconds to seal the victory.


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