Wow, what a game indeed. Maryland and Duke go down to the wire in the final regular season game of the series with Duke winning, 69-67. There couldn’t be a more fitting end to what has been a great series over the years. It took everything both teams had to win this game, and MD nearly took it away from Duke.
Duke did not shoot the ball well, shooting 20.8% from 3 point range and only 33% as a whole for the game. If you look at it in terms of shots, Duke only made 6 of them in the second half…6 shots! MD defended Duke extraordinarily well, but fortunately for Duke they were aggressive and got the line to offset the horrid shooting.
Duke was very fortunate to have a lead of 6 points at the half (39-33) as Rodney Hood for Duke and Dez Wells for MD spent significant stretches on their respective benches due to foul trouble. Wells played 11 minutes in the first stanza and Hood only 6. Duke would need to be carried in the first half by freshman Jabari Parker who would score 14 first half points on his way to 23 for the game. Maryland would utilize the inside-outside game against Duke using big-bodied Charles Mitchell, who Duke had no answer for on the low-block. Mitchell would score 8 points in the first half and 12 for the game. Mitchell, along with Jake Layman and his 12 first half points, kept MD close in the first half. Duke aided MD with 6 first half turnovers and sloppy play on offense, and a lack of rebounding presence as well. MD would have the advantage in rebounding (23-16) in the first half but did not capitalize, as second chance points were nearly a draw with Duke having the 6-4 edge.
In the second half, Mark Turgeon in what I thought was a brilliant move chose to sit Dez Wells to start the half, while Coach K started the half with Rodney Hood on the floor. Both Hood and Wells sat much of the first half with 3 fouls each. With Rodney Hood drawing the assignment on Wells, whichever player would pick up that fourth foul would be at a significant disadvantage. Wells would not enter the game until Hood picked up his fourth foul. Advantage MD. Wells would enter the game and go off, scoring 17 second half points after scoring none in the first half. Duke had no one who could physically match-up with the 6’5, 215lb muscly guard. Duke would use Tyler Thorton on Wells at times, and Amile Jefferson in some instances, but Wells used his size, strength, and athleticism to take Duke defenders to the cup, time after time, even hitting a 3-pointer in Jefferson’s face…not usually a part of his repertoire. Hood was never truly in rhythm in this game, but did give Duke 11 points on 3-10 from the line. Hood did makes some tough plays near the end of the game that helped Duke keep pace with MD, who would take the lead from Duke late in the second half.
Duke would get 11 points from sophomore guard Rasheed Sulaimon, who shot 3-of-9 from the field but did deliver a much needed 3-point shot in the second half as MD put game pressure on the Devils. What Duke would need to offset its poor shooting was rebounding, and it got 8 from Jabari Parker but it got 12 from Amile Jefferson, who would make play after play for Duke. Jefferson would have an important stop late in the second on Dez Wells and secure a rebound to finish off MD in the waning seconds of the game.
A lot went wrong in this game for Duke. The cold shooting, losing the rebounding battle, the inability to stop MD in the paint, and the overall lack of consistent execution on both sides of the ball. Duke has to also do a better job of recognizing and understanding how to beat a zone on the fly. They have seen zone all year from teams and should have been ready for it. Turgeon did a masterful job of coaching in this game and recognizing that Duke may not be at its best shooting the ball after the layoff.
There were some things that Duke did well that could, come March, be things to be excited about. Duke beat a very emotionally charged MD team on the strength of driving the ball to the basket and drawing fouls and getting to the line. Duke won without shooting well. The manufacturing of offense in ways aside from beyond the arc is what may be Duke’s most important asset going into tournament season. Duke won despite not having its guard play at its best. These tough games are the ones that should help us later on, not the blowouts that we love to see as fans. This team is still in the character building phase, young and still learning—that is not an excuse for the lack of execution, but perhaps it sheds some light on it a bit.
As for MD, we love to say that they are not Duke’s rival, but in the end the ACC is losing out. These teams have battled for decades, and as much as I despise their fans, the players play with heart and I have no real dislike for the team itself. I have a strong hatred for the administration who made decisions based on money and decided to put a middle finger up to tradition and the history that made MD basketball relevant over the years. So, no, they were not our rivals, but there was a rivalry. When a team gets under your skin like MD did to us Duke fans and you take pleasure in beating them as we did…you have to somewhat admit there was a little something extra in it than, say, beating Boston College or Virginia Tech.
Quotes: Duke 69, Maryland 67
Saturday 02/15/2014 – Duke Sports Information
Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski
“It was a gutty game for both teams. You know it’s tough to score; it was a little bit chaotic with all the foul trouble and the line ups that were in. The one consistent factor throughout was that both teams played really hard. They played to win and we played to win. That’s what made it a great basketball game. One time in the second half I think we were 2-for-19 and I thought we had good looks. We didn’t score for about 7 minutes, and then [Dez] Wells took over. When you don’t see the ball going in it can have an impact on you. In that split second, Wells took advantage when we weren’t playing good defense, and in order to stop him you would have to play really good defense. So I thought our missed shots affected our defense. When we went down 54-52 we said, ‘Look we can’t have that happen.’ The ball wasn’t going in but we had to continue to play defense and from that point on Rodney [Hood] put the ball in. There were some exchanges in there that are going to be highlights like all these half court shots. Just one of those scrums when that ball was all over and you have Duke and Maryland players just diving everywhere for the ball. Those are unbelievable. The will to win was shown so brilliantly during those exchanges and during one of them Rasheed [Sulaimon] gets a three. Jabari [Parker]’s dunk was incredible and I am proud of our team. We beat a real gutty team today. That was vintage Cameron. That was one for the ages and I am proud of them today.”
On missing Duke vs. Maryland:
“I think I have been the most outspoken in a good way about what they have done. I have said all along that they are part of the ACC. Before the game and after the game I spent time with Juan Dixon. I’m not going to name my five most favorite players, but he was one of them. I told him that when we played against him. I respect who you are. Over the years, the players, the coaches and the teams that have shared these unforgettable moments, I don’t know what it’s worth. It won’t be replicated. There will be other rivalries and other games. It started with Lefty [Driesell] really. You talk about all these years, [Bob] Wade, then Gary [Williams] did an incredible job, and now Mark [Turgeon]. The one consistent factor is that they have been great games”.
On the end of the game:
“Sometimes the basketball gods fool around with you. Our effort the last 30 seconds was spectacular. Tyler [Thornton] made a big play, he knocked that ball out and Amile [Jefferson] got it. That’s what Tyler does. It’s not a stat play but it’s a play that wins the game. Heck of a game”.
On Rodney Hood guarding Dez Wells:
“What a game for Rodney. He played six minutes in the first half, and got an early fourth foul. He and Tyler played a lot of the second half with four fouls. We knew they were going to get the ball in the last 20 seconds. Once they made the call that it was our ball and we were going to sub Andre [Dawkins] for Amile because we figured they would foul us and get free throw shooters in. We asked to make sure that sub didn’t count and we still would get our time out, because it was our last time out. During that segment when we were waiting, all of our players were saying ‘Coach we said it would end up on defense, so let’s play defense.’ It was all the guys saying that, and they made that happen. They took ownership and it’s a beautiful thing when that happens, well at least for me it is”.
On Rasheed Sulaimon as point guard:
“Just his play whether at point guard or not he can break people down. One of the keys for today was guarding [Seth] Allen. He hurt us big time in Maryland last year and in the ACC tournament. Rasheed did a really good job. He is playing really well. One big thing for him is finishing. He can make multiple great plays on his drive, and sometimes he doesn’t finish the shot, like at the end of the half he had an opening to get in. He gets by people really well, and if he starts finishing he will take his game up another level.”
Duke Sophomore Rasheed Sulaimon
“The intensity in there was at a high. It definitely felt like March in there. Every possession was intense and it was one of those games where if you make a mistake on any possession it could cost you the game. It definitely felt like a tournament-type atmosphere. It was a great game played well by both teams.”
“We didn’t let our bad shooting this game affect our defense, and the biggest point was at the last play of the game. We really dug down and we stopped them twice. That just shows the growth of our team and how we’re starting to mature. I think we’re doing it at the right time. We just need to keep on this path right now and continue to grow.”
On how the team will adjust to the heavy schedule in the upcoming week after having so many days off:
“We did some conditioning on the couple of days that we had off, just to stay in shape. These next few days we just have to take care of our body, focus on one game at a time, not look ahead, and just really get our reps. This coming week is really going to be a big week for our program.”
On Tyler Thornton’s key tip out to Amile Jefferson near the end of the game:
“He always makes winning plays like that. That’s one of those plays that probably not many people would notice, but as soon as he made it, Coach [Mike Krzyzewski] and our team and I noticed it. I just went up there and hugged him. It was a big-time play, and if he didn’t make that play, [Maryland] probably would’ve had a rebound and a chance to win it. The thing about Tyler is we’re used to him making big-time plays like that, and he made it for us again today.”
Duke Sophomore Amile Jefferson
“They were a great team. They played really hard. Today was a fight, and shots weren’t going in for us, especially in that second half. We didn’t shoot very well, but we never let up. We didn’t put our heads down. We kept playing, we kept fighting, and that last play by all our guys was great. We were all in on that last play.”
On how a close game like this helps Duke:
“It definitely helps us, especially moving forward, because we’re going to be in tough, close games. To have that under our belt, knowing that we’re going to have to do that again, probably multiple times, is really good for our guys. I think a game like this is just going to bring us closer. We bonded, especially on that last play. Guys were talking, guys were scrambling, switching, and it was great to see. I think Jabari [Parker] ended up on the point guard at one point, just through switching. It was great – our guys really buckled down and got a stop.”
On what Maryland was doing defensively against Duke:
“I think they were playing really hard. They’re a really physical team and they have some big guys. But we just couldn’t find the net today. Shots just weren’t going down. I think we were getting really good shots – Duke shots, shots that we normally hit. They just weren’t falling. For a while, we had a lapse where couldn’t make shots and couldn’t get stops. But then we buckled down after the timeout and we started getting stops again, and that really helped us to win the game.”
On Duke’s current run of four games in eight days:
“This is a fun time for us. This should really be a good time to see where our team is, to evaluate and get better. We’ve got a big Georgia Tech game coming up on Tuesday, so after this, [we’ll look at it as a] great game and a lot of emotion and excitement but tomorrow we’re back to the drawing board to get ready for that game.”
Duke Freshman Jabari Parker
On his highlight drive and jam finish late in the second half:
“I kind of wanted to shoot it at first, because on the first time [the Maryland defender] didn’t really contest the jump shot. But then I saw the lane open up, my teammates moved out, and I just needed to take it because we were also in the bonus and getting free throws. It just went my way. I knew that I really had to finish through. I didn’t really want to look for the highlight. I just knew that I really had to finish strong at the rim to get some type of foul or get the shot to go in.”
On how a close game like this helps Duke:
“I think it energizes us but it also gives us something to work toward. I think that we’re not complete yet. This is just going to get harder from now on, so if we want the end result to be good, then we have to go twice as hard.”
Maryland Head Coach Mark Turgeon
“Obviously I was proud of my group tonight. We fought through a lot of foul problems, and we were a little impatient offensively in the first half, but we competed. I thought the second half, really the last 15 minutes, I thought we were tremendous. I thought we guarded well. You know, we wanted them to beat us from two. They missed some shots obviously they normally make, but I thought our defense was terrific. Our rebounding was terrific. We really executed, and even the shots we didn’t make at the end in the last two possessions, I thought we got what we really wanted, and executed well. That’s all you can ask as a coach. It’s been a ride. We have been at North Carolina, at Virginia, at Duke, but it has made us so much better. We haven’t won any of them, but it’s made us better. I don’t know how Charles’ [Mitchell] shot didn’t go in. They called on the “Duke gods,” I don’t know what happened. It was rolling in, and then all of a sudden it’s rolling out. It’s a great college basketball game, I just hate that we came up short.”
On Charles Mitchell’s first shot:
“He bobbled it. What a great pass by Seth [Allen]. I have been all over Seth to pass the ball. We went downhill, we faked the ball screen. We had Dez [Wells] going downhill in his right hand, Seth in his left hand, and he just made a tremendous pass. They weren’t going to leave Evan [Smotrycz] and Jake [Layman]. You know, I just wish he could’ve got to the rim quicker, and he did. He bobbled it, then we competed. We got the ball out of bounds and under. The guys kind of willed their way to the basket, and it just didn’t drop. I thought it was in. I don’t know if you ever deserve to win, but I felt like our kids deserved better than what they got at the end.”
On missing playing at Duke:
“Yes, I am going to miss this. What a great place to come play. It reminds me of playing at Kansas, and coaching against one of the all-time best. I’m going to miss it. That was fun, and we played tonight for Maryland. We didn’t play for ourselves, we played for all former coaches, all former players, all former students because 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 hope every Maryland fan feels the same way. I know we’re upset we lost, but our guys gave it all they had. “
On team chemistry to get over loss:
“Oh, we’ll get over this. We’re starting to ball now.”
On the shot from Charles Mitchell:
“No, no. We ran a play for Jake. They switched out. Dez just went and got it. We’ve been doing some hand off stuff. It was lucky we got that good of a shot, to be honest with you. They did a good job taking down what we had, so I thought that was good. The play before I thought we had a better shot. Charles had it a foot from the basket, and you know, that’s when we should’ve scored. That’s disappointing. Charles plays tough, we wouldn’t have been where we were without him. He was tremendous. We’ve got to talk about Damonte Dodd. I mean I’ve been searching, and he went out there and changed the game with some of his shots. I just wish he fouled [Jabari] Parker there at the end, and made him make two free throws rather than a dunk. He’s young, I was really proud of him. I thought Roddy [Peters] had his best game in a long time.”
On Dez Wells in the second half:
“Dez knows he can get to the rim. We started playing a little defense, they were running. They were stopping the break high, stopping it in the back court, and we turned it over a couple times. I was like ‘Guys, come one, if they are going to do that, let’s make them pay.’ So we made them pay, we started really attacking after that. So, we made a couple silly turnovers there in the back court. Two of them: one for the [Rasheed] Sulaimon three, which put them up two, and another where we fouled. We played downhill; we ran some isos for Dez. He had the big three in the corner, and I thought we were going to win it. I give Duke credit, they won it for a reason.”
On Jake Layman:
“He did a great job on [Rodney] Hood. He rebounded, and he’s aggressive on offense. Every play it seemed like two guys were guarding him, so he’s making everybody else better. We’ve done some things offensively to make us better. We just have to slow down. You can’t shoot 41% at Duke and win. Jake was tremendous.”