Maryland came into last night’s game on a high after beating the Tarheels on Saturday. In that game, two Maryland players had career games, Greivis Vasquez and Cliff Tucker. As the Terps looked to repeat their success, they hit a small snag when playing the Blue Devils. Maryland, with four games remaining, was looking to finish strong in order to impress the NCAA tournament committee. Now, with three games remaining, they’ll need to win out and win a game or two in the ACC tournament to assure themselves a spot in the NCAA tournament.
Maryland came out with a lot of fight last night. Their defense held Duke to 34% shooting in the first half and two of their top scorers, Kyle Singler and John Scheyer, to a total of 7 first half points. The one player they couldn’t stop was Gerald Henderson who finished with 19 points, 8 boards. Maryland played man-to-man defense and seemed to be making all the rights moves for most of the game. It was their zone defense that allowed Duke to get back into the game with 2 minutes to play in the first half eventually tying the game by halftime. Offensively, Maryland took to driving the lane and picking most of their first half points in the paint. Duke didn’t seem to challenge much only allowing Maryland to get the line 3 times. This did allow Maryland to control the tempo and they seemed to take better quality shots.
The second half was a different story as the ref’s seemed to be in Duke’s corner, calling a good amount of touch fouls early against Maryland. This was bad as it put Vasquez in early foul trouble. Vasquez picked up his fourth foul with 18 minutes left in the second half causing him to sit for close to 10 minutes and finishing with 10 points, 6 boards and 5 assists. Although their best player was benched, the Terps didn’t back off as Milbourne, Hayes and Bowie took the lead. Milbourne, 19 points and 5 boards, had a few key blocks and steals to go along with his offense. Hayes and Bowie, minus Bowie’s one man show at times, provided good leadership at the point in Vasquez’s absence. They set their offense effectively and played great defense until the last 4 minutes of the game. At that point, Dukes Henderson and Singler both hit a pair of crucial three pointers which basically sunk Maryland and they couldn’t recover.
Key points of the game. Maryland, who usually shoots an ACC best 79% as a team, shot 64% from the line. Uncharacteristic for the Terps and it could have made a difference down the line when the score was tight. I’ll admit, I like the fact they’re getting to line, but these are easy points they can’t afford to give up. They were -12 in the rebound category and although they don’t beat teams out in rebounding, they’re usually a lot closer. I probably mention this after every game, but they need to focus on their perimeter defense. They allowed Duke to shoot 42% as a team and they need to get better at defending the perimeter. Giving Duke the opportunity to shoot the three is basically handing them the game with Duke’s talented three point shooters.
As we look ahead to the games remaining, NC State (3/1), Wake Forest (3/3) and Virginia (3/7), they’re going to have to win at least 2 of these games and hopefully 3. They have showed us more in the last two games than they have shown us all year long. It’s been a completely different team out there on the floor and it’s because they have defended more closely and ran their offense more effectively. The NCAA committee will look at how the Terps finish when determining whether or not they deserve a chance in the tournament. Right now, they are a team on the outside looking in, but a three game win streak will change that. Either way, lets take one game at a time and see how this thing turns out.