No. 1 Duke Demolishes Maryland

Duke's DeMarcus Nelson goes to the basket between D.J. Strawberry, left, and Travis Garrison, right, during a long first half for the Terps. (Ellen Ozier - Reuters)
Duke's DeMarcus Nelson goes to the basket between D.J. Strawberry, left, and Travis Garrison, right, during a long first half for the Terps. (Ellen Ozier - Reuters)
By Eric Prisbell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 12, 2006

DURHAM, N.C., Jan. 11 -- Essentially the same cast of Maryland players who had dominated Duke the past 22 months took the floor Wednesday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium. But they encountered a Blue Devils team that looked vastly superior to the club the Terrapins swept last season.

Duke, which now has depth to match its star power, showed Maryland why it is the nation's unanimous No. 1 team. A raucous crowd of 9,314 that included Magic Johnson watched the Blue Devils snap a three-game losing streak to Maryland with a 76-52 rout.

"I think today we redeemed ourselves in trying to protect our home court," said Duke's Shelden Williams, who was a prime reason for his team's dominance. The senior tallied Duke's first triple-double since January 1978 with 19 points, 11 rebounds and 10 blocks.

The game's outcome was decided by halftime, when the 23rd-ranked Terps (11-4, 1-2 ACC) entered the locker room trailing by 23. The Terps had committed 18 of their 29 turnovers in the opening 20 minutes.

"We just did not do anything right," Maryland point guard D.J. Strawberry said. "Everything just went wrong from the jump."

At his new position, Strawberry has been a work in progress. And the full-court pressure Duke freshman Greg Paulus applied further complicated his night. But Coach Gary Williams was quick to note that the team's struggles in the half court went far beyond the point guards.

No Maryland player had more than one assist in the game.

The Terps' only three field goals in the first 13 minutes came on a put-back and two steals. The half-court offense did not produce a basket until center Ekene Ibekwe backed Williams down and threw in a hook shot.

When the Terps attempted shots near the basket, they often were rejected. Maryland made 19 shots, while Duke had 14 blocks. Gary Williams did not think his team looked comfortable running its offense all night.

By halftime, six Maryland players had at least two turnovers. There were dropped passes, errant passes and bobbled balls.

"We thought we could really deny passing lanes tonight," Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "That's something we really exploited from the start."

The addition of a stellar freshman class and the return of all-Americans Williams and J.J. Redick has allowed Duke (15-0, 3-0) to extend its defense more this season. What's more, sophomore DeMarcus Nelson added a defensive presence in the first half by collecting four steals.

Nelson was playing in only his second game since fracturing a bone in his ankle Nov. 23. But he suffered another apparent setback with his ankle toward the end of the first half Wednesday and will undergo X-rays Thursday. Duke, however, hardly needed Nelson to return in the second half.

"We beat them here last year and we played great," Maryland forward Nik Caner-Medley said. "And this year we played terrible."

Much of Maryland's concern entering the game focused on Redick, who was in perpetual motion throughout. Chris McCray, who covered Redick as well as anyone last year, drew the assignment and said he hoped to stop the sharpshooter from having a standout game.

Redick scored a game-high 27 points and got hot late in the first half. He got Strawberry stumbling around a pick and made a 21-foot shot. In the final two minutes of the half, he sank a three-pointer from about 25 feet and drew a foul on McCray, who could only throw up his hands in apparent disbelief after the whistle was blown.

If Maryland's half-court offense was dysfunctional in the first half, Duke's was crisp and fluid. If it wasn't freshman Josh McRoberts finding a streaking Williams near the basket for a dunk, it was Sean Dockery flipping a perfect pass to a cutting Redick for a layup. Or it was Redick passing up a three-pointer to fire the ball under the basket to Williams, who converted a two-handed dunk.

If Maryland was outworked in Saturday's disappointing loss at Miami, the Terps seemed simply outmanned Wednesday. Their second consecutive loss sets up a crucial game against Wake Forest at Comcast Center on Sunday, but Gary Williams cautioned reporters not to overreact to Wednesday's defeat to the top-ranked team in the nation.

"We played Duke as well as Texas did, as well as anybody has," Williams said. "We are not going to win here every year. I am proud of what we have done in the past, we didn't do it tonight. But it doesn't mean we are a bad basketball team because a lot of teams that were ranked higher than us could not get it done."

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