WHAT JUST HAPPENED:
The Duke Blue Devils improved to 15-0, but it wasn’t easy. Facing their toughest challenge to date, Duke battled poor shooting and turnovers to take down the Maryland Terrapins, 71-64. The win gives Duke a 2-0 record in conference (both wins are at home), while dropping Maryland to 0-2.
While few people will brag about this game, I’ll stay excited. There will be off nights and this team will need to find ways to win when the shots aren’t falling. Tonight, that’s what we got. Sure, Maryland won’t be the best team Duke will face all year, but they are just one of those teams that isn’t bothered by the Duke label. They’re going to challenge Duke, no matter what the talent level is on the floor.
THE GAME WAS OVER WHEN…
…Kyle Singler nailed an open three with 58 seconds on the clock. Duke’s lead was at five. The Terps needed a stop. All game long they did a masterful job defending the three, but when Singler gave Smith a screen up top, both defenders followed Nolan. It was the easiest shot of the night for the senior and he stroked it in.
WHO DESERVES MAD PROPS:
Kyle Singler had a strong night. Let’s just blame it on the new hairdo. He finished with 25 and 10, including four key offensive rebounds. He found success driving around Maryland’s smaller defenders. He also hit the three-pointer that sealed the game.
DON’T FORGET ABOUT…
How about Ty Thornton? Welcome to ACC play kid. With Duke’s first half struggles carrying over into the second half, Duke needed something, anything different to propel this team. I certainly didn’t think Coach K would call on the freshman, Tyler Thornton. Of course that’s why he’s the coach and I’m just some jackass sitting at his computer.
With about 16 minutes on the clock and Duke down six, in came Thornton and Seth Curry (more on him in a bit). Curry’s scoring and Thornton’s defense lit something under the Blue Devils’ asses.
Thornton in particular shut down Terrell Stoglin, who was having success driving and dishing. The best part had to be his little jumper. Thornton has taken so few shots, I was just excited to see him shoot. I nearly wet myself when it went in.
LOSERS NEED LOVE TO…
Of course it’s Jordan Williams. He picked up two quick fouls, but it didn’t hurt his game too much. He scored yet another double-double, 23 points, 13 boards. He’s so good inside, when he got you, you almost knew he was going to score. Of course he missed a huge basket underneath when he grabbed an offensive rebound and missed the put back with just over two minutes to play. If he makes it, Maryland is down just three.
GOD I LOVE STATS: Duke has won 25-straight games. It is the second longest winning streak in Duke history. They are seven more wins away from tying their team high.
Clearly stopping Nolan Smith was Gary Williams’ game plan and it worked. Smith struggled to find his shot, often running into double teams, having shots blocked. Obviously, every night can’t be an All-American night. Everyone, including Nolan, gets a night off.
I would like to see him recognize what’s going on and adjust better though. Clearly you always tell shooters they need to shoot themselves out of a slump, but tonight it wasn’t just about an off-shooting night. Nolan had the target on his back. Too often, Nolan kept forcing things. The team began to have success when his focus switched to getting the ball to others. Once Duke got a small lead, Nolan was able to settle down and find some looks later. If you ignore the shooting percentage and five turnovers, he actually had a solid 18 points, eight boards and seven assists.
TERPS TERRIFIC D
You have to give props to Maryland. They played a terrific defensive game tonight. While they’re young, they are also long and athletic. They caused 17 turnovers and blocked eight shots. Duke only shot 40-percent because there weren’t a ton of open shots.
TALENT NEEDS AN IQ
At some point I’m going to have to just throw my hands up in the air. Mason Plumlee is a gifted basketball player, who just makes way too many mistakes. He continues to fade away on all his turnaround shots. He continues to make stupid mistakes on the defensive end. Three of his five fouls came on reach arounds.
Now there is nothing wrong with trying to deny Jordan Williams the ball. In fact, because Williams has a habit of leaning back, the steals can be had. The problem was, Mason always seem to get called for a foul when he tried it. MIles on the other hand, had a much better time doing it.
ANDRE, WHAT’S UP BRO?
I appreciate that huge three at the end, but this was not your finest hour. I’m fine with the shooting (he was 3-6), but the defensive effort was terrible. Too many times, Dawkins’ man was able to blow by him into the lane. D up man, or you’ll be backing up Curry again.
Nice scoring lift by Seth. He scored 12 for the game, all in the final 16:30. It would be nice though if Curry can make a play and the camera crew could not cut to his father. I’m all for showing love to the parents, but since Dell never reacts to a single thing, let’s cut down on the air time, okay?
IF YOU SHOOT THEM, YOU BETTER MAKE THEM
Ryan Kelly is a big guy. We need him to do big guy stuff. Early on, he did just that. He got a couple of boards (including one put-back) and blocked two shots. Then he got trigger happy and started missing three-point shots. Not shockingly, he didn’t play in the final 16 minutes of the game. If you’re going to shot like J.J. Redick, you need to make them like J.J. Redick.