A fitting end for Duke basketball's final ACC matchup with MarylandRivalry or not, the final chapter of Duke-Maryland in the ACC was riveting enough to be described by Blue Devil head coach Mike Krzyzewski as "one for the ages."
On a night when the ball never seemed to bounce their way, the Blue Devils were able to overcome their worst shooting performance of the year by doing the little things and—with a little bit of help from the basketball gods—walk away with a 69-67 victory in the last conference matchup between Duke and the Terrapins. After the game, a nostalgic Krzyzewski was adamant that he will miss the annual rivalry games against Maryland.
"I have been the most outspoken, in a good way, about what they have done. I have said all along that they are part of the ACC," Krzyzewski said. "Over the years, the players, the coaches and the teams that have shared these unforgettable moments, I don’t know what it’s worth. It won’t be replicated."
To say Duke had an off-night from the floor might be an understatement. The Blue Devils shot 33.3 percent from the field for the game, including the opening stretch of the second half in which they missed 17-of-19 shots.
Three-point shooting—an area in which Duke usually excels—was not something the Blue Devils were able to lean on as they shot 5-for-24 from behind-the-arc. But the game's biggest shots—minus Jabari Parker's go-ahead dunk with 1:05 remaining—didn't come from the paint or from long range, but rather from the charity stripe.
With their shots failing to fall from every other spot on the floor, the Blue Devils were 28-of-34 from the free throw line. Forward Rodney Hood said that with the team unable to find its shooting stroke, the Duke coaching staff encouraged players to attack the rim.
"We weren't hitting shots. We were taking good shots but they just didn't roll in today," Hood said. "Coach called a timeout and drew a play up for me to get into the lane and I shot a floater and it went. We just had to attack the basket and get fouled and we did a great job of stepping up and hitting our free throws."
But Saturday night's game was about more than the Blue Devils' resiliency and ability to find a way to win. It was the perfect finish to the series, a series Duke now leads 114-63. As the last time Maryland and Duke will face off as ACC foes—the Terrapins are Big Ten-bound following this season—the Blue Devils were able to go out with a much-needed victory.
From the glory days of Lefty Driesell to the "Miracle Minute" in 2001—when Duke stormed back to beat then-No. 8 Maryland after trailing by 10 with less than a minute remaining—to the JJ Reddick cell phone incident, the matchup is one that will be missed by both sides.
"It started with Lefty [Driesell] really. You talk about all these years, [Bob] Wade, then Gary [Williams] did an incredible job, and now Mark [Turgeon]," Krzyzewski said. "The one consistent factor is that they have been great games.”
Despite the constant chants of “Not our rivals,” by the Cameron Crazies, everything about the contest had rivalry written all over it—from the players’ chippy play to the epic finish in which Maryland’s Charles Mitchell’s hook shot over Hood’s outstretched arm came inches away from dropping in the bucket, bouncing on the rim three times before falling back to the court and into the arms of Amile Jefferson.For a split-second, as Mitchell's shot hung on the rim with Parker and Hood looking on intently as Turgeon jumped up and down on the sideline, it looked as though Maryland would have the opportunity to end the series with three straight wins. But as it was with the "Miracle Minute", the basketball gods were on Duke's side Saturday night.
"It felt like forever. It felt like forever," Hood said. "We needed a stop and I guess the basketball gods were good to us today. It could have easily rolled in."