Maryland fans camped out Friday night and all day Saturday to watch the Duke Blue Devils battle the Terrapins in the Comcast Center for possibly the last time. Players and fans were energetic right from the start as the Terps held on to beat the second-ranked Blue Devils, 83-81.
Maryland won the game despite turning the ball over a season-high 26 times. The Terps were able to overcome their turnovers by shooting 60 percent from the field.
There's a lot of pride and there's also a lot of passion about Maryland basketball, said Coach Turgeon after the game. So we talked about pride and passion, playing with those two things tonight, for us and for our fans. Our fans were just tremendous; never quit and never had a doubt we were going to win the game. I'm just really proud of my kids.
The team is excited, said senior James Padgett. It's a big win for us that hopefully we can use as a momentum builder going into the last couple games in the ACC. Everyone is excited, but we're not content. We're going to continue to work and continue to get better.
Maryland lost the rebounding battle for the first time this season last week against Virginia. That wasn't the case against Duke. The Terps dominated the boards, outrebounding the Blue Devils 40 to 20. One reason Maryland was able to outrebound Duke was sophomore Alex Len. Len pulled in a game-high nine rebounds while scoring a team-high 19 points.
Coach Turgeon said he challenged Len to stop playing like Mason Plumlee's little brother.
He was tremendous all night, Turgeon said. He was great on ball scree defense, and on protecting the rim. He picked up fouls three and four really quick, but he was dominating the game, He fouled, and I should have taken him out before the fourth foul. He was great, and I have been hard on Alex. For us to have a chance to make a run down the stretch we need Alex to continue to play at this high level.
I watched a lot of film this past week, said Len. I just took it as a challenge. I didn't play well at their place, so it was a huge challenge for me to play against them.
The Terps took a one-point lead on a Nick Faust three-pointer with 44 seconds left in the half. Maryland never trailed again. They lead by 10 points two separate times in the second half. Their second 10-point lead came with 3:39 left in the game. The Blue Devils then went on an 11-3 run, capped by a Seth Curry 3-point basket with 58 seconds left in the game to make it a two-point game. With a chance to make it a two-possession game with 27 seconds left, Freshman Jake Layman was only able to connect on one of his two free throws. Layman then fouled Rasheed Sulaimon on a three-point shot with 17 seconds to play. Sulaimon, who killed the Terps with a career-high 25 points in their first matchup, made all three free throws to tie the game.
With the game on the line, the ball was in the hands of Maryland freshman Seth Allen, who had committed a team-high eight turnovers in the game. Turgeon trusted his freshman would make the right play.
We set a double screen for Logan [Aronhalt] on the baseline, explained Turgeon. Told him they were going to switch, which they did. Jake went right into a cross screen for Alex. I told Seth if they switch you throw it right to Alex. There was a lot of holding and grabbing going on, which happens late in the game. Seth just went by him and got all the way to the rim.
Allen was fouled going up for the layup and was headed to the line for the two biggest shots of his career. Allen said he felt comfortable at the line because of the amount of preparation they had lading up to the game.
Coach told us we had to make 500 free throws as individuals before this game, so I just go comfortable in my routine and tried to knock them down, said Allen after the game.
Despite Duke guard Tyler Thornton trying to distract the freshman, Allen knocked down both free throws to seal the win for the Terps.
It was a physical game. The Terps shot 31 free throws in the second half and made 23 of them. Seven Terps scored at least seven points. Allen scored 16 points in the game. Sophomore Dez Wells turned in another impressive performance, scoring nine points to go along with seven rebounds and seven assists. Charles Mitchell, Padgett and Layman each scored eight points for the Terps. Nick Faust scored seven points and recorded four rebounds.
Seth Curry had a great game in a losing effort for Duke, scoring a game-high 25 points on 11-17 shooting. Quinn Cook scored 18 and Sulaimon had 16. Marshall Plumlee played one of his worst games of the season, scoring a season-low four points.
With the win, the Terps improve to 18-7 on the season and 6-6 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Duke falls to 22-3 overall and 9-3 in the ACC. The Terrapins will travel to Boston College to take on the Eagles Tuesday. Tip is scheduled for 9 p.m.