Maryland vs. Duke: Terps fans are well behaved, players are too accommodating vs. visiting Blue Devils

Maryland fans show their displeasure with the trio of Duke fans in their midst at Comcast Center in the latest installment of the teams' heated rivalry. (Photo by Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)
Maryland fans show their displeasure with the trio of Duke fans in their midst at Comcast Center in the latest installment of the teams' heated rivalry. (Photo by Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)
  Enlarge Photo    
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 3, 2011; 12:59 AM

Despite the pep rallies and bonfires and free T-shirts, it was business as usual Wednesday night at Comcast Center. As always, Duke brought out the worst in Maryland's fans, then did the same with its players, stopping the Terrapins' three-game winning streak with an 80-62 victory.

If Maryland's fans really want to get Duke's attention, the Terps have to beat the Blue Devils more often. Wednesday's win was the Blue Devils' eighth in the past nine meetings between the two, and while yelling "sucks" after the name of each Duke player as he was introduced is really creative and clever, it clearly didn't bother the fifth-ranked Blue Devils.

It does bother Maryland officials, who would prefer that the school's time in the ESPN spotlight would feature less profanity and more proficiency. About two hours before tip-off, Coach Gary Williams spoke to students who gathered early at Comcast for a charm-school boot camp of sorts. Williams asked for an end to the off-color chants, but despite the fact that most of the students were clad in bright yellow "Garyland" T-shirts, they opened the game with their "sucks" repertoire, followed by the traditional "[Expletive] Duke."

After that, the Maryland crowd calmed down. Unfortunately for Williams, so did the Maryland players.

"It's a shame, it's a great atmosphere tonight, you live for games like that, you'd think you could get excited about being out there and playing and go hard all the time," Williams said afterward. "I don't think we did a good job of that tonight."

The Terps had a bad shooting night, hitting just 40 percent of their shots and only 22 percent (2 of 9) of their three-point attempts. Duke shot 53 percent for the game and 44 percent from beyond the arc (10 of 23), including several clutch threes by Andre Dawkins late in the game.

"If they don't make theirs it's not a big issue," Williams said. "We didn't shoot well from the three-point line or inside the three-point line. You have to shoot the ball better, no doubt about it. The fact that they made 10 and we did what we did, that's a big difference in the game."

Maryland had won three straight coming in to Wednesday night's game, and while the Terps didn't necessarily have to win to get an NCAA tournament bid, a quality win over a top 10 opponent would have helped their cause.

"We're 4-4 in the league, we've played Duke twice, we have eight league games plus another game - nine games left," Williams said. "We have a chance to win those games."

At 14-8 they will need to win a lot of them to get to 20 wins before the ACC tournament.

Duke, meanwhile, was coming off a 93-78 loss to unranked St. John's at Madison Square Garden on Sunday, which made them feisty and dangerous. This is not Duke's best team in recent memory but it is still the quality of the ACC - by a long shot. North Carolina is the only other ACC school ranked this week, at No. 23.

Duke led by as many as 15 in the first half before a mini-run by Maryland closed the gap to seven at halftime. The Terps held Duke scoreless for the final 2 minutes 25 seconds, but the Blue Devils still shot 50 percent from the field to Maryland's 38.5. That disparity would remain almost unchanged in the second half. Kyle Singler finished with 22 points for Duke and Nolan Smith added 21. Jordan Williams led Maryland with 20 and 10 rebounds.

Among those in the crowd to see the much-anticipated matchup were new football Coach Randy Edsall, Ravens cornerback Josh Wilson and Wizards guard John Wall, who wore a red hoodie and thick black Urkel glasses - oddly, the same outfit Tommy Lasorda was wearing.

Maybe Lasorda can give one of his famous pep talks to the disappointed Williams. A win would have given him his 664th career victory, matching John Wooden's total. Instead, the Terps fell to 14-38 against Duke under Williams, who seemed puzzled as to the reason his team wasn't more energized for this game.

"There is a reason, but you have to get to the reason, you have to find the reason," Williams said. "There comes a point where you do it or your don't do it. You have to get it done. If you have the answer, give me a call at the office tomorrow."

© 2011 The Washington Post Company