Lefty Driesell called it "an old-fashioned butt kicking." Len Bias called it "one of those days." Those who witnessed it from a neutral corner called it a clinic.
For 15 minutes this afternoon, eighth-ranked Duke played fundamental basketball about as well as it can be played, running the table on Maryland to the tune of 40-14. That streak turned an eight-point deficit into an 18-point lead, and from there the Blue Devils cruised to an 86-73 victory in the opening round of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
Duke got 27 points from guard Johnny Dawkins, 21 from Mark Alarie and a superb floor game from point guard Tommy Amaker, who, although he scored only eight points, turned the game around.
Bias scored 22 points for Maryland, Adrian Branch 21 and Derrick Lewis 16. But that wasn't nearly enough against a team that shot 61 percent from the field and, after leading by 20 points, handed Maryland its worst opening-round ACC tournament defeat in Driesell's 16 seasons at the school.
Duke (22-6) will play top-seeded Georgia Tech in the first semifinal game Saturday at 1:30 p.m. The Terrapins (23-11) go home to wait for word Sunday on where the NCAA tournament committee will send them. By then, they might have put today's debacle in The Omni behind them.
They began as if they intended to make a serious run at defending the championship they won a year ago, holding a nine-point lead before the game was six minutes old.
"The way they came out was pretty intimidating," Amaker admitted. "We know how talented they are and how tough they can be when they get on a roll. When we called time out, the coaches let us know in no uncertain terms we better get more aggressive."
Today, for slightly more than 10 minutes, Maryland ran its offense patiently, got the ball to Branch where he could score and got great offensive play from Lewis. That combination produced a 27-19 lead midway through the first half.
Then, as quick as you can say "quickness kills," it did. It began with Dawkins' steal from Jeff Adkins at midcourt for a layup. Then Dawkins went 86 feet for an eight-foot jumper. It was 27-23, and Driesell, knowing Duke can fly when it gets off the ground, tried a timeout.
It was no use.
Amaker hit a tough 15-footer in traffic, then went to the base line for a short jump shot, again with a hand in his face. That tied the score at 27. Dawkins stole the ball from Bias for another layup, then hit a free throw after a steal by Amaker. Branch missed a shot and Danny Meagher dunked off a steal by Dawkins.
It was 32-27 and Duke had run a 13-0 string in barely three minutes. "They just keep coming at you," Bias said. "There's no rest, no chance to get any breathing room. Their quickness is amazing."
It was 43-37 at halftime and things quickly became worse for Maryland. Branch, who had gotten his third foul with 1:08 left in the half, got his fourth with 18:43 left to play. He never was a factor again.
Alarie started the second half for Duke with a dunk off a pretty pass from Dawkins and the Blue Devils rolled to a 12-2 start that made it 55-39 with 15:42 to go.
"We just never stopped them," Bias said. "They scored and scored and scored. Even when we got going offensively again it didn't matter, because we never could stop them."
The lead reached 59-41 on Dawkins' jumper with 14:19 to go. By then, Bias had gone almost 15 minutes without a point, missing five shots during that stretch. The Blue Devils had control and Maryland had only one brief run left.
Bias tried to get Maryland back in the game. Even with two or three defenders collapsing on him, he scored eight points during a stretch that closed the Terrapins to 60-49 with 11:08 left.
But Alarie followed Meagher's miss for a three-point play and, in the next two minutes, got two more wide-open follow shots when Maryland failed to box out. The last one, with 8:20 left, made it 69-51 and Driesell could start making plans for a quick trip home.
"We just never should have gotten out of bed today," he said. "During that stretch we were awful and they were awfully good. We blew a nine-point lead and then fell to pieces. I can't remember the last time we got beat like that."
The Terrapins haven't been so thoroughly dominated in an ACC tournament game since 1979, when North Carolina destroyed them, 102-77, in a semifinal. No one has manhandled them so easily this season. And it came on an afternoon when the Terrapins looked capable of being easy winners.
"We did exactly what we had to for 10 minutes: ran the offense, played tough defense," Bias said. "Then we forgot who we were playing. We forgot how good they are. We started going one-on-one, showboating and got out of the offense. They never let us get back in it."
And, as has happened before this season, Driesell yanked the one player capable of getting the team back into the offense or running effectively: point guard Keith Gatlin. He ended up playing 24 minutes, but was off the court for a lot of Duke's run.
"Was I surprised?" Gatlin said. "No, I wasn't surprised. I don't get surprised any more."
"He couldn't guard anyone," Driesell said when asked about Gatlin's departure. "He couldn't guard Dawkins or Amaker. He couldn't handle them."
Today, none of the Terrapins could handle Dawkins or Amaker or Alarie, or just about anyone else in Duke blue.
The final play might have summed it up best. Chuck Driesell, in his final ACC tournament game, attempted a shot as the buzzer was about to sound and had it delivered back into his face by Duke's Todd Anderson.
Game, set, match. Clinic.