DURHAM, N.C. -- Maryland's Charles Mitchell's final shot didn't fall, and the Terps couldn't…
The Five: What I Learned After Duke
Drive, Drive, Drive
Before the game, head coach Mark Turgeon, and juniors Dez Wells and Nick Faust said that while Duke had an active, pressure defense, there would be driving lanes available. They said as long as they handled the ball and spaced the floor, they'd have a shot to split the seam and get to the rim.
And, for the most part, that's what Maryland did all game long. The Terps ended up out-scoring Duke 38-20 in the paint with many of those low-post points coming courtesy of layups from wings/guards Seth Allen, Wells, Jake Layman and Faust. Unfortunately for the Terps they clanked a number of high-percentage shots as Allen (2 of 6), Evan Smotrycz (2 of 9) and even Layman (6 of 13) missed a few chances at the rim.
But they were bailed out by Wells, who took over the game in the second half with 12 of his 17 points coming off streaks to the bucket. Freshman Damonte Dodd and Jonathan Graham also deserve some credit here as they did well clearing out Duke's defenders and giving Wells plenty of room.
Maryland also stayed active on offense, showing motion, setting back screens, and using more creative cuts than they had all year. At the 2:24 mark of the first half, Layman came off a curl and nailed a 15-footer from just right of the elbow. Later in the game, in the second half, Wells came off a screen and Evan Smotrycz found him cutting down the lane for an open layup. There was even a pick-and-roll sighting with Charles Mitchell losing his man for what would have been an easy deuce had he not fumbled the ball away.
Mitchell Showing Muscle
The Terps identified a mismatch down low, and Charles Mitchell took advantage. Duke doesn't have a true center other than backup Marshall Plumlee, and the Devils couldn't match Mitchell's bulk. With a few nifty moves and even a drop step on one occasion, Mitchell beat the lanky Amile Jefferson and had three early buckets before starting the second half with a pair of short jumpers to draw Maryland to within 39-37.
Moreover, Mitchell was once again active on the offensive glass, collecting a team-high four of his six rebounds on that end of the floor. That said, he missed a number of chip shots and actually didn't have any second-chance points, drawing iron on all four put-back opportunities. He ended up scoring 12 points, but shot just 6-of-15 from the floor.
The big man doesn't have terrific hands either, and a couple times when Dez Wells fed him down low Mitchell couldn't handle it. But Mitchell is the best Maryland has as far as down-low scoring goes, and when he catches it cleanly he has the athleticism and touch to rack up points around the rim.
With Duke, the top 3-point shooting team in the ACC, having an off night beyond the arc (5-of-24, 20.8 percent), Maryland opted for a 1-3-1 zone towards the end of the first half. Jake Layman promptly came up with a steal and finished with a dunk to draw the Terps within 32-28, and Duke's Jabari Parker and Andre Dawkins followed with misses from beyond the arc as UMD collapsed on them.
The Terps went back to a man-to-man to start the second half, but they flashed zone throughout the latter frame. Duke shot just 7 of 26 in the second half and went through a stretch where they converted just two field goals in 13 minutes.
Layman deserves plenty of props for being active with his length at the top of the zone, while Dez Wells, Nick Faust, Evan Smotrycz and Seth Allen did well rotating and closing out. Down low, Jonathan Graham and Damonte Dodd didn't put up huge numbers, but they altered plenty of shots and mostly kept the Devils off the glass. Duke did end up with 12 offensive rebounds, but Maryland out-boarded the Blue Devils overall 43-36.
Duke's defense deserves credit, but Maryland did not have one of its better nights passing the ball. Sure, the Terps moved and cut, and yes Dez Wells dropped perhaps the dime of the year when he weaved a half-court pass through the defense to a streaking Jake Layman, who finished with a layup. But in general UMD took too many chances, didn't always show great court vision, attempted a few ill-advised skip passes and didn't make especially smart decisions at times.
The Terps had 14 turnovers, and nine of them came in the first half when Seth Allen had some issues finding his teammates. On one first-half play Layman came open in the corner and had his eyes on the paint, but Allen fed him the ball anyway -- even though the former wasn't looking. Naturally, the ball caromed off of Layman's hands for a turnover. Later in the half, Allen tried to throw a long pass to Jonathan Graham in transition, but the big man had three Duke players around him and never had a chance to corral the ball. Allen finished with just two assists while turning the ball over three times.
Dez Wells had a team-high four turnovers, including two in 11 minutes in the first half. While Wells generally did well feeding the post, he also made a couple questionable passes, including one where he threw a low bounce pass at Charles Mitchell's feet. Jake Layman (three turnovers), Nick Faust (two) and Evan Smotrycz (three) had a mistake or two as well when moving the ball around the perimeter.
Fouls, Fouls, Fouls
Blame the referees if you will, but Maryland still had too many ticky-tack fouls that led to its undoing. We're talking touch fouls, over the backs, push-offs and the like. Add ‘em up and the Terps had 25 of them, sending Duke to the line 34 times. The Blue Devils shot just 33.3 percent for the game, but they converted 28 free throws, keeping them, and eventually allowing them to win, the game.
The fouls were especially galling during the first half when Duke made it into the bonus by the 12 minute mark. Evan Smotrycz was hit with a touch foul right out of the gate, but three early ones in particular were frustrating.
At 14:25, after a Nick Faust rebound, Shaq Cleare got a bit too physical underneath and was hit with an offensive foul. Soon after, Jonathan Graham failed to establish proper rebounding position and was called for an over-the-back. Then a couple minutes later Charles Mitchell picked up a cheap foul on a push-off of Rasheed Sulaimon. It was just Mitchell's first infraction, but he picked up two more before the half ended, forcing Turgeon to send him to the bench. Dez Wells also committed three early fouls and played just 11 minutes during the first half (part of the reason he scored 0 points and attempted one shot).
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