It was a tough day for Duke's perimeter defenders. Credit: CHUCK LIDDY
GREENSBORO—One week ago, Duke turned in a surprising performance. It would have been hard to predict such a dominant showing—a game that was over within the first three minutes—against what was then a hot North Carolina team.
Yesterday, Duke served up another surprise. It would have been hard to predict a worse showing against an NIT-bound Maryland. The Blue Devils made Dez Wells look like an all-American, pressing up on him just so he could beat them with a quick step on his way to the basket and a career-high 30 points.
The perimeter also struggled to keep up with Maryland's passing, as the Terrapins recorded assists on 69.2 percent of their baskets.
So, to state the obvious, Duke's defense—which has not gotten statistically better with Ryan Kelly's return—was awful against the Terrapins. Duke surrendered 1.19 points per possession. To put that into perspective, the Blue Devils gave up 1.15 points per possession in their embarrassing loss at Miami.
"We did a poor job getting back," Ryan Kelly said, "Especially early and they got a lot of easy looks and got to the free throw line with it."
Maryland went a season-high 23 of 25 (92 percent) from the free throw line.
A few more thoughts:
••• As noted in the preview, Duke still lives and dies by the 3. And the Blue Devils died Friday night with their 4-of-25 performance from behind the arc. Check out the game story for Quinn Cook and Mason Plumlee's differing take on what should have happened with the shots weren't falling.
••• If there was one positive for Duke, it was Rasheed Sulaimon turning in his first sold performance in five games. The freshman, who lost his starting spot to Tyler Thornton before the North Carolina game, finished with 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting from the field. He had 17 points in his last four games combined.
Mike Krzyzewski wasn’t overly comforted by that development.
“He did a good job. But it’s not about one guy,” Krzyzewski said. “This was not a good night for us.”
••• Duke was surprised at its own lack of initial energy.
“It’s definitely a surprise and embarrassing because of the energy we didn’t come with,” Quinn Cook said. “We had all the momentum coming in with a win against a great North Carolina team. It’s inexcusable to come out with no energy.”
••• Duke started 1-of-6 and then 4-of-13 from the floor. Mason Plumlee and Rasheed Sulaimon scored the Blue Devils’ first 14 points. Ryan Kelly converted a 3-point play with 6:38 left in the half to become the third Blue Devil to score.
••• Seth Curry said that the Blue Devils learned a few things from the game.
"We need to be sharper, play harder from the start," He said. "Things like that."
The Blue Devils' NCAA tournament dreams rest on them learning those lessons.