Seven words from Duke guard Rasheed Sulaimon foretold his scoring outburst against Maryland on Saturday afternoon, confidence that was perhaps uncharacteristic of a typical freshman. After Dez Wells torched Sulaimon for the Terps’ first seven points, Coach Mike Krzyzewski yanked the lanky swingman and offered some harsh motivation. Sulaimon’s response?
“I got you, Coach. I’ll do better.”
Better was an understatement. Sulaimon hadn’t made more than three three-pointers in any game this season. By halftime, he was 5 for 5 from beyond the arc and had 18 points, double any other player in the game. He finished 9 for 13 from the floor and 6 for 8 from three-point range, torching Maryland in an 84-64 Duke win.
“He just embraced responsibility, and anyone who embraces responsibility has a chance to do better,” Krzyzewski said. “He came in the game and he gave us a huge lift. That was a great performance, especially after he started out that way.”
Maryland Coach Mark Turgeon said the Terps botched a few defensive assignments early, allowing Sulaimon to leak out along the perimeter and discover open space.
“He was feeling it,” Turgeon said. “He’s a good shooter.”
But with Duke forward Mason Plumlee rendered nearly ineffective by Maryland freshman Shaquille Cleare during the first half, and with Ryan Kelly still sidelined indefinitely with a foot injury and Seth Curry still struggling from the field, freshmen led the way for Duke.
Aside from Sulaimon, Amile Jefferson finished with an effective 11 points and nine rebounds, including five on the offensive glass.
“He’s not afraid,” Krzyzewski said of Jefferson. “He plays with great enthusiasm and he’s going to be a great player here. He’s getting stronger. We aren’t going to see who he is this year exactly, but given the opportunity to play, his growth will be faster. All of the guys love playing with him.”
>> Cleare did a solid job resisting Plumlee’s back-down attempts in the first half, but ran into foul trouble late when he sent Jefferson to the line on two possessions just before halftime. Cleare never regained his rhythm, finishing with two points and four fouls in 16 minutes.
“Shaq did a nice job on him,” Turgeon said. “They were making a lot of jump shots in the first half, and Plumlee had a few assists on those in the post. That’s something we worked on really hard preparing for. I thought Shaq did a nice job.
“Shaq’s third foul was a big one. We had three guys with two fouls, wanted to go big lineup, they made a great big-time play. Amile Jefferson made a big-time play right before half that put them up eight. Yeah, it hurt. It hurt. Shaq really never got back into a flow in the second half. Shaq can lay on pretty good. I thought the whole difference was Plumlee was more aggressive on the offensive boards, got a couple put-backs. I thought we did a really nice job on him, to be honest with you.”
Plumlee finished with 19 points and seven rebounds, doing most of his damage after halftime.
>> After scoring Maryland’s first seven points in the first 3:45, Wells finished with 13 points and eight rebounds, with only four points and one board coming after halftime.
He did wind up playing some at point guard, dictating the offense and operating off high screens, but mostly acted as a facilitator, finishing with one assist against three turnovers.
“Coach Turgeon was drawing up plays to get our post involved,” Wells said. “They did a good job of carrying us through the rest of the first half. It’s more than just me on the team. I’m not the whole team. We have a lot of good players on our team, so I don’t have to do everything. Our talents are spread out. Anyone can come off and have a really good game.”
>> Here’s the video of Plumlee’s reverse put-back dunk, which brought down the house and earned him a technical foul after saying something to Jake Layman.
Still searching for the video of Len’s two-handed reverse slam. Feel free to post it in the comments if you find it. Assuming both will make “SportsCenter” tonight.
>> I’m not going to post the entire Cameron Crazies cheer sheet, even though it was readily available on Twitter during the game, but their most creative jeers included chanting “U-S-A” at Alex Len, “please don’t eat us” at Charles Mitchell and “no means no” at Dez Wells, all during free throws. Wonder if they know that Northwestern’s fans already beat them to jabbing Wells that way.
The Duke Chronicle also printed this in Friday’s edition, which was enthusiastically shaken at Maryland throughout the game.
From today’s Duke Chronicle: twitter.com/alex_prewitt/s…
— Alex Prewitt (@alex_prewitt) January 26, 2013
And, of course, there was the standard “ACC” chants as they serenaded the Terps off the floor for perhaps the last time as conference foes.
>> Speaking of Maryland’s future at Cameron, Krzyzewski was asked afterwards whether there existed any sentiments on his end, given that the Terps might never return to Durham after moving to the Big Ten. He was having none of that question.
“I don’t feel anything,” Krzyzewski said. “I’m ecstatic that we won. Whatever decisions schools want to make, they make them. I only have room for so many feelings.”