Maryland basketball vs. Duke: Previewing the game

February 15, 2013

(Associated Press)

THE INFO

Who: Maryland (17-7, 5-6 ACC) vs. Duke (22-2, 9-2).

When: Saturday, 6 p.m.

Where: Comcast Center.

TV: ESPN.

DMV radio: 105.7 FM, 980 AM, 1300 AM.

Coaches: Terps — Mark Turgeon (second season, 34-22). Blue Devils – Mike Krzyzewski (33rd season, 876-234)

Pomeroy ratings: Terps 61st, Blue Devils 6th.

RPI: Terps 74th, Blue Devils 1st.

THE SCRIPT

The season hangs in the balance for Maryland, which after scoring a 26-point blowout of  Wake Forest and its first ACC road win in exactly one year at Virginia Tech promptly got handled by Virginia on Sunday at Comcast Center. With their NCAA tournament chances already hanging by a thread, the Terps must score an upset of the second-ranked Blue Devils to impress the NCAA tournament selection committee. Duke, meanwhile, barely eked out a 62-61 win at Boston College before sliding by North Carolina, 73-68, at Cameron Indoor. Maryland has had six days off to rest and recover for its biggest and most important game of the season.

THE QUESTIONS

1. Contain the shooters? In the teams’ first meeting, Duke freshman Rasheed Sulaimon torched the Terps with a career-high 25 points, including six three-pointers and four in a three-minute span. Maryland actually kept pace with Duke for the first half, trading blows and entering intermission down just eight points, but sloppy second-half play allowed the Blue Devils to coast to an 84-64 rout on Jan. 26 in Durham, N.C. Shaq Cleare actually did a great job on Mason Plumlee before getting into foul trouble, but Duke kept its distance through the shooters. Maryland will have to do a better job controlling the perimeter to lock down the Blue Devils’ offense; Virginia and Duke are the only two teams to shoot better than 50 percent against the Terps this season.

2. Play with urgency? Time is running out. It’s as simple as that. The Terps have seven regular season games remaining. Only Duke and North Carolina are ranked in the RPI’s top 79, according to CBSSports.com. Plainly put, the Terps need this win. But can they summon the urgency necessary to topple mighty Duke? Of course, there’s a fine line between urgency and playing rushed basketball. The Terps need to avoid the mental errors which cost them in the second half at Cameron Indoor, while still maintaining a firm sense of resolve.

3. Oh where, oh where has Alex Len gone? Maryland’s recent struggles have only magnified those plaguing its 7-foot-1 center. Len has scored in single digits in three of the past five games, and hasn’t topped 12 since the Boston College game. The Terps need him to be strong inside and dominate the low post. Even more concerning, Len is averaging just 6.2 field goal attempts over that five-game stretch, including eight points on 3-of-6 shooting against the Blue Devils.

THE STATS

.533: Dez Wells’s three-point percentage over the past six games (8 of 15)

.222: Wells’s three-point percentage over the season’s first 18 games (6 for 27)

.167: Maryland’s winning percentage when trailing at halftime (1-5)

THE QUOTES

“I think we’re a little further along offensively. That’s when we started to make changes in our offense. We’ll see tomorrow whether we can handle the pressure. Guys are a little more comfortable in our system, what we’re trying to run this year. How are they different? I think they were kind of getting used to not having Kelly. I still think they’re trying to figure it out too. They go small, sometimes they play Murphy at the 4, sometimes it’s Hairston, sometimes it’s Jefferson. The last couple games they’ve played a four-guard lineup.” – Turgeon.

“The biggest thing is guys think we’re a lot better than we are. Maybe we are that good, but we haven’t done anything to prove it. Haven’t won nearly enough games. At times, we’ve played against teams and just haven’t brought the energy. We have to understand that our talent is not enough to take us where we want to go.” – senior guard Logan Aronhalt.

THE TERPS TUNE OF TODAY

Time Is Running Out” by Muse.

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Alex Prewitt covers the Washington Capitals. Follow him on Twitter @alex_prewitt or email him at alex.prewitt@washpost.com.
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Alex Prewitt · February 15, 2013

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