Editor’s Note: This article was written by Chris Bengel, another talented staff writer who hates Duke equally as much as any Terrapin fan. Follow him on @durtypuckhead for some great Terps insight.
The Teams: Maryland Terrapins (15-4) vs Duke Blue Devils (16-2)
The Time: 1 pm ET
The Location: Cameron Indoor Stadium. Durham, NC
TV/Radio: CBS, 105.7 FM
The Backstory: After being absolutely embarrassed on the road against North Carolina, the Maryland Terrapins rebounded with a nail-biting win against Boston College. The Terrapins shot the ball better than they have in recent games. Maryland shot 42.4-percent (25-for-59) from the floor and every player, except for Pe’Shon Howard, made at least one field goal. The Terrapins had three players that scored in double figures. Alex Len had a very strong game as he scored 16 points and pulled down 13 rebounds. In a starting role, Jake Layman netted 15 points and grabbed five rebounds in 28 minutes. Layman was also strong from beyond the three-point line as he made two of his four attempts from long range. Maryland stands at 3-3 through six games of ACC play and will travel to Duke for their toughest challenge yet on Saturday afternoon.
On the contrary, Duke is coming off its worst loss since 2009. The Blue Devils were absolutely dismantled by Miami on Wednesday night by a margin of 27 points. Nothing went right for the Blue Devils as they only made nine shots in the first half and trailed the Hurricanes 42-19 at the break. The hole proved to be too deep to climb out of and Duke went on to lose 90-63 on the road. The Blue Devils have been struggling as of late. They have lost two of their last three conference games after going 15-0 to start the season.
Keys to the game
1.) Slow down Mason Plumlee
It is absolutely paramount that the Terrapins attempt to slow down Mason Plumlee right out the gate. Len will certainly have his hands full with the Duke forward and will have to be physical and aggressive. Plumlee is averaging 17.3 ppg and 11.4 rpg this season. Despite Duke getting throttled by Miami on Wednesday, the Indiana native still got his as he scored 15 points and pulled down 11 rebounds. Plumlee is a great athlete and is excellent in the low post. He abused Len a season ago but that was the soft Len. Len is having a great season and has shown how physical and aggressive he can be at times. He’s going to have to be on top of his game if the Terrapins want to have a shot to pull off an upset at Cameron.
2.) For the love of all that is holy, don’t turn the ball over
If you’ve watched any Maryland basketball this season, then you know that turnovers are a sore subject around here. Despite shooting the ball pretty well against Boston College, the Terrapins still turned the ball over 14 times. Through six ACC contests thus far, Maryland is averaging a shade over 15 turnovers a game. The Terrapins just downright struggle early in games and make bad passes and just look disjointed at times. If Maryland can cut down on the turnovers, they have a puncher’s chance to upset the most-hated team in all the land.