Maryland takes down Duke & advances to ACC semifinals

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Feb 16, 2013; College Park, MD, USA; Maryland Terrapins center Alex Len (25) shoots a free throw against the Duke Blue Devils at the Comcast Center. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

With their NCAA tournament hopes on the line, Dez Wells turned in another magnificent performance as he led the University of Maryland men’s basketball team to a 83-74 upset win over the #2 ranked Duke Blue Devils. It marks the second time that the Terrapins have beaten the Blue Devils this season.

The Terrapins played arguably their most complete game of the season as they shot 51 percent (26-of-51) against Duke tonight. Despite a few surges from the Blue Devils, Maryland never trailed throughout the entire game.The start of the game couldn’t have been scripted much better for the Terrapins. They jumped out to a 12-7 lead and Wells seemed to be in one of his zones. Wells made three of his first four shots and scored seven of Maryland’s first 12 points. Wells was absolutely on fire in the first half as he was 7-of-9 from the floor and netted 16 points to account for nearly half of Maryland’s first half point total. He got any shot he wanted and made life difficult for every Blue Devil. He was even able to get Ryan Kelly completely turned around on one of his jump shots. 

Things did get tense in the second half. With 13:02 remaining, Charles Mitchell fouled Mason Plumlee and Plumlee connected on both free throws to cut the lead to 47-46. However, the Terrapins outscored Duke 12-6 over the next five minutes to extend their lead to a more comfortable score of 59-52. The run was highlighted by a pretty jumper by Shaquille Cleare who played angry tonight and was effective against Plumlee in the post. Nick Faust also hit a big three-point jumper that was made possible by good court vision from Alex Len. The closest that the Blue Devils would get from this point on was six points. Maryland continued to shoot the ball well late in the game and took care of the basketball for the most part.

Another outstanding performance that can’t be overlooked is that of Pe’Shon Howard. On a night when all the credit goes to Dez Wells and it definitely should, Howard turned in a phenomenal game for Maryland. The junior guard came up huge at the free-throw line as he scored all seven of his points at the line. Howard also played an integral role on the defensive end to propel the Terrapins to victory. He also dished out five assists and grabbed three rebounds in a winning effort. This is the play that Mark Turgeon has wanted Howard to be all season. He doesn’t have to put up gaudy numbers on the offensive end. He just has to run the offense and find his teammates..

Despite not having a great first half, Alex Len rebounded in the second half and ended up having a very nice game. The Ukrainian big man ended up scoring 10 points and grabbing eight rebounds against Duke tonight. Len didn’t have a stellar first half but showed up in the second half. He stepped out and made a few jumpers away from the basket. When Len can step out and bury shots, Maryland is a very tough team to beat. It was a far cry from the disappointing performance that Len turned it in against Wake Forest on Thursday night.

Maryland will now face the winner of the Florida State/North Carolina game which is currently being played. If the Terrapins can advance to the finals, their ticket to the NCAA tournament may be punched. No matter which team they face, Wells will have to keep up his high level of play and carry this team to the promised land.