Thursday, February 20, 2003

Duke 75, Maryland 70

The Associated Press

DURHAM, N.C. - Any team expecting to push No. 8 Duke around in the NCAA tournament better think twice. The developing inside players for the Blue Devils showed a veteran Maryland crew their improvement first hand in a 75-70 victory Wednesday night, winning the battle of the boards and blocking a season-high 13 shots.

The 13th-ranked Terrapins (16-7, 8-4) dominated the paint in the first meeting, an 87-72 victory a month ago in College Park.

This time around, freshman Shelden Williams was a big part of the story for Duke, scoring 13 points, grabbing 11 rebounds and blocking six shots.

"You can tell it's not easy to get buckets on us any more," said center Casey Sanders, who is averaging 9.8 rebounds over the last four games and had three blocks against Maryland. "That's something we've been fighting since I've been here and to actually see it turn around my senior year I take it as a blessing."

The 6-foot-9, 245-pound Williams was coming off a season-best 20 points in a victory at Virginia.

"Shelden was terrific," coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "He's giving us that inside presence that we've longed for all year."

Krzyzewski said Williams has concentrated recently in practice on getting more aggressive with his post moves. He also credited assistant coach Steve Wojciechowski - a former Duke point guard - with helping the big man's sudden development.

"It's a big transition for freshmen," Krzyzewski said. "I would like to think it's been kind of a team effort with Shelden. Like with the Catholic church, we didn't just bring holy water and sprinkle it on him. The kid has worked real hard and our staff has done a good job."

Dahntay Jones scored 21 points and J.J. Redick added 17 as Duke (18-4, 8-4) tied the defending national champion Terrapins for second place in the Atlantic Coast Conference with four league games remaining.

Wake Forest, which plays at Georgia Tech on Thursday night, is 7-3.

"We're really running our own race. We're not worried about anybody else, but this feels good," said point guard Chris Duhon, who has no turnovers in his last 75 minutes. "If we do the things we're capable of doing we may be on top at the end."

Steve Blake missed a contested 3-pointer with 2 seconds left that could have tied it for the Terrapins, but he threw up an airball and Redick closed it out with two free throws.

Blake, who was 2-for-10 from the field, said he may have been fouled on the play.

"Duhon kind of tripped himself and he kind of tripped me off balance," Blake said. "That got me off my shot, but that has nothing to do with how the game finished. We should have played well the whole game."

Tahj Holden led Maryland with a career-high 18 points, but Drew Nicholas, who scored 24 against Duke a month ago, was held to eight. He and Blake combined to go 5-for-20.

When asked if Maryland's inside game was good enough in the battle of the last two national champs, Nicholas said: "Obviously not. It's all about toughness. There were plenty of times when we should have come up with the ball and we didn't."

Each team started slowly in the second half before Duke went up 67-57 with 5:49 left as Redick made two long 3-pointers and Jones had a three-point play in a span of 1:47.

But the only team with a winning ACC road record coming in would make one last stand, pulling within two with 3:18 remaining.

Jones then made two free throws and Daniel Ewing nailed a 3-pointer with 2 seconds left on the shot clock to give Duke a 73-66 lead.

"I would lose to play those guys 10 times," Duhon said of Maryland. "To be in this type of atmosphere, playing that great a team, this is why we play college basketball."

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Kentucky 66, Arkansas 50
Memphis 80, Louisville 73
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Duke 75, Maryland 70
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Today's high school schedule
Indian Hill's Hunter going for four on the board
Boys Games: Bacon opens defense of state title
Girls Games: West picks up for injured star
Ky. Boys: Ryle, Doellman knock off Dixie
Ky. Girls: Dixie knocks off Ryle
LeBron to have number retired
West, Ross bring home sectional championships
Sectional wrestling results
Wrestling honor roll
Ohio wrestling polls
Ky. swim meet delayed a week
Camels find strength in numbers at state