If there is one thing Duke needs right now, it’s to move on from Wednesday’s 90-63 destruction at the hands of No. 25 Miami.
The No. 1 Blue Devils (16-2, 3-2 in the ACC) will have the chance to do that as they return to Cameron Indoor Stadium to play Maryland Saturday at 1 p.m. Although the two teams have had some memorable moments on the court against each other, the Terrapins agreed in November to leave the ACC in favor of the Big Ten.
Maryland (15-4, 3-3) has struggled with its consistency in conference play thus far with three losses in its last five games, though that span includes a win against then-No. 14 N.C. State.
Seven-foot-1 sophomore center Alex Len paces the Terrapins in both points and rebounds with 13.5 and 8.2, respectively, and has scored in double figures in every ACC game thus far.
Len will battle Duke senior Mason Plumlee in the post, setting up a matchup between two talents who many regard to be potential lottery picks in the 2013 NBA Draft.
Plumlee has faced increased pressure with his frontcourt mate Ryan Kelly still out indefinitely with a right foot injury. Although he has recorded double-doubles in three consecutive games, he has made just 12 of his last 35 shots in Duke’s last two games, averaging 4.5 turnovers.
Len’s size and presence have allowed the Terrapins to be one of the nation’s best rebounding teams early in the season. Maryland averages 43.0 rebounds per game, the second most in Division I, and the team has yet to be outrebounded in a game this season.
Xavier transfer Dez Wells, averaging 11.8 points per game, is the only other Terrapin with a double-digit scoring average so far this season. Wells, who was granted a transfer waiver in November allowing him to play immediately without having to take a year off, is a versatile 6-foot-5 wing player who is making 54.0 percent of his field goals this season.
And as one of the deepest teams in the ACC—with head coach Mark Turgeon regularly rotating 10 players—point guard Pe’Shon Howard is not relied on to score. With a 25.8-percent field goal percentage, he has struggled to put the ball home and has seen reduced minutes, but he sets up his teammates effectively with 4.6 assists per game.
He and Wells will be intstrumental guarding a Blue Devil backcourt that had its worst game of the season against Miami.
Howard will be matched up against Quinn Cook, who made just 1-of-12 field goals in that game, though he added seven rebounds and five assists.
Freshman guard Rasheed Sulaimon led Duke with 16 points against the Hurricanes but some of Duke’s other guards were not as fortunate.
Second on Duke with 15.9 points per game, Seth Curry made 0-of-10 field goals against the Hurricanes for his lone scoreless effort of the season. Tyler Thornton suffered a similar fate, making none of his seven attempts, ending with just one point.