GREENSBORO Something wasn’t right.
It was an unsettling feeling, like patting the place where you keep your smartphone and feeling only emptiness. Duke wasn’t right Friday night, and the Blue Devils paid for it dearly, getting upset 83-74 by an inspired Maryland team in the ACC quarterfinals.
Mike Krzyzewski felt it. He called a timeout only 87 seconds into the game, yelling “Get over here!” to his players.
They did get over there, but the normal Duke urgency never showed up. Duke was behind 5-0 when that timeout was called and fell behind 12-2. It didn’t help that the Blue Devils – the best 3-point shooting team in the league – went 4-for-25 from the 3-point line. The rest of the game wasn’t a lot different than those first 87 seconds, as the startled crowd at Greensboro Coliseum kept waiting for the run that never came.
“We wanted Mason Plumlee to beat us,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said, and so the Terrapins didn’t double-team Plumlee much and tried to blanket Duke’s 3-point shooters. It worked beautifully.
No. 7 tournament seed Maryland never trailed, never lost confidence and suddenly found itself the lowest seed remaining as the tournament heads into the weekend. Duke – seeded No. 2 in the ACC tournament and ranked No. 2 in the country – lost for the first time all season with Ryan Kelly in the lineup. It had been 18-0 with Kelly. The Blue Devils fell to a Maryland team that went 8-10 in the ACC regular season but is now in the conversation for an NCAA bid.
“They were a hungry team,” Krzyzewski said. “I didn’t think we were hungry tonight…. They’re trying to survive and they played like it.”
Said Plumlee, who had 19 points: “There is no time to start questioning things, but at the same time we have to right the ship going forward. This happens next week, we’re done.”
Maryland’s Dez Wells was the best player on the floor Friday, with 30 points. The Terrapins are now 2-1 against Duke this year – the other win came at Maryland without Kelly.
But Duke wasn’t Duke for most of the game. Seth Curry was pretty good late, but he didn’t score for the first 22 minutes. This was the reverse image of the Duke-North Carolina game at Chapel Hill six days before, when Curry hit his first seven shots and Duke raced to a 14-0 lead and was never headed.
This time Duke was the team that fell behind early, though, and never could get all the way back.
The Blue Devils did get within one point two times midway through the second half. “They seemed to always have an answer,” Plumlee said.
Duke had won the ACC tournament title the past three times the event was held in Greensboro. It had seemed likely that Duke and North Carolina would meet in Saturday’s semifinal. But Maryland (22-11) spoiled that party and instead threw one of its own, playing with the sort of resolve that had to impress the NCAA committee.
Said Turgeon of the victory: “It helps me with my fans, I know that.”
The Maryland coach also said: “I thought the difference was we came out of the gate (well) and Duke wasn’t themselves at the start.”
Not at the start, not in the middle and not at the end. Duke got banged right out of the tournament it used to own, giving the ACC tournament the sort of jolt it has long been known for providing.
Scott Fowler: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @Scott_Fowler
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