Charles Pittman, Herman Veal and Adrian Branch scored, rebounded and played aggressive defense yesterday to lead Maryland to a 77-60 Atlantic Coast Conference victory over undersized Duke before 13,100 in Cole Field House.

Pittman, the 6-foot-8 senior center, scored 22 points and had 14 rebounds. In a substitute role, Veal, 6-6, finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Branch, 6-8, was spectacular on offense for the second straight game, scoring 18 points, and played the best defense of his career against Duke's Vince Taylor, the ACC's leading scorer.

Taylor, averaging 19 points per game, led the Blue Devils (8-11, 3-6 in the ACC) with 18 points, but didn't score for the first 13 minutes of the second half, as Maryland took a big lead. "They played a variety of defenses, and it seemed like I spent most of my time just running around trying to get open," Taylor said.

Maryland (13-7, 4-5) alternated man-to-man and triangular zone defenses, which held the Blue Devils to 41 percent shooting.

Duke added to its own woes by taking bad shots that allowed Maryland too many rebounds and fast break baskets. And when the Terrapins weren't running, they were working the ball inside to Pittman, Veal or Branch. Senior guard Dutch Morley got eight of his 10 assists on passes inside.

When asked why he didn't go to a bigger lineup, Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski replied, "What bigger lineup?

"It wasn't that we couldn't score. But we couldn't keep them from scoring," Krzyzewski continued. "They post up inside real hard, and they're just bigger than we are. It was a mismatch. They're one of the most physical teams in the league, and they can exploit our weaknesses."

Weaknesses for Duke mean lack of size. The Blue Devils started 6-8 Mike Tissaw at center, 6-5 Taylor and 6-5 Doug McNeely up front. Taylor and McNeely are really guards. "In some cases," McNeely said, "the height was just too much."

"They were just playing volleyball on the boards," Taylor said, noting Maryland's 38-28 edge in rebounding. "They took it to us inside and we just couldn't stop them."

Pittman scored the first four points of the game, and Maryland took a 10-2 lead. Branch didn't allow Taylor to touch the ball on offense for the first 5:20. Duke kept the game close, however, on the outside shooting of guard Chip Engelland (16 points) and Tom Emma (10 points).

When Taylor finally got going and scored eight quick points, Duke pulled ahead, 20-18, with six minutes remaining in the first half. But Maryland got a three-point play from Branch and five points from Adkins (10 points) to take a 30-25 halftime lead.

After Emma's jumper reduced the Duke deficit to three points, 30-27, to start the second half, Pittman scored on a dunk, Branch stole the ball and scored a three-point play, then took a pass from Morley inside for a short jumper. Suddenly, Maryland was ahead by 10, 37-27.

Duke threatened once more, reducing a 13-point deficit to 49-43 when the Terrapins, as Branch said, "started free lancing and throwing up not-too-smart shots." But a basket by Branch, a good defensive play by Veal and Morley's subsequent three-point play ensured the victory.

"Pittman played his best game since he's been here," Maryland Coach Lefty Driesell said. "He dominated the game inside. Veal (who had lost his starting job to Mark Fothergill) played the best he's played in quite a while.

"I don't want to get too excited right now, but hopefully we are coming together," Driesell said.