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Duke grabs early lead, fends off Terrapins

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - For the second straight game, Duke went into halftime with a dwindling lead to an opponent playing in front of its home crowd.

And for the second straight game, the Blue Devils came out of the locker room on a roll, increasing a four-point halftime lead to 11 over the second half's first three minutes.

But unlike the Blue Devils' game against North Carolina Feb. 7, Duke (23-1, 11-0 in the ACC) did not relent and never allowed Maryland (15-8, 5-5) to make a run on its way to a 96-88 victory Saturday afternoon at the Comcast Center.

"We beat a team that played winning basketball today," head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "We kept them like three possessions away."

With Shelden Williams and Josh McRoberts on the bench with two fouls for the final 4:49 of the first half, Maryland whittled Duke's 12-point lead down to just four at the break.

Both players started the second half, and Duke responded.

J.J. Redick picked off a Maryland pass and pulled up for a three-pointer from the wing to start the run, during which Duke outscored the Terrapins 11-4. Freshman Greg Paulus also drove for an easy layup and hit Williams twice down low for open buckets.

From there, Duke simply hung on to its lead. The Blue Devils' biggest lead was 14, and the closest Maryland got was seven-on two occasions with less than a minute left.

Duke hit 12-of-14 free throws over the final 2:07 and avoided the turnovers down the stretch that have hurt the team in recent games.

"They hit some tough ones at the end, but we knocked down our free throws and didn't turn the ball over," said Redick, who finished with 35 points for the second consecutive game. "We executed well."

Early on, Redick was not the Blue Devil guard providing Duke's offensive punch. With Terrapin guard D.J. Strawberry draped all over him, Redick did not touch the ball on the Blue Devils' first four possessions and did not attempt a shot until six minutes into the game.

Paulus, who has not shot well recently, found himself with open looks from the perimeter. The freshman hit two early three-pointers and finished the game 4-for-5 from long range. His 16 points were a career-high.

"He came right out-boom," Krzyzewski said of Paulus, who also dished out a team-high 7 assists. "You would have thought you had a junior or senior out there-calling things out, protecting the ball, really being strong with the ball."

Sean Dockery also chipped in 15 points, including shooting 3-for-4 from beyond the arc. His three-pointer with 1:40 to go helped ice the game for Duke.

But in the end, it was the usual tandem of Redick and Williams that dominated for the Blue Devils. Despite the first-half foul trouble, Williams owned the paint on both ends of the floor. He finished with 26 points, 13 rebounds and seven blocks.

After the game, Krzyzewski said Williams altered even more shots than he was given credit for in the official statistics.

Redick, content to let his teammates shoot early on, found his touch after the break and scored 24 points in the second half. Although Duke's starting backcourt shot with more confidence, Redick still found himself edging above 30 points for the 11th time this season.

"J.J. got 35 points in a workman-like way," Krzyzewski said.

With Maryland rallying furiously in the game's final minutes-the Terrapins hit three three-pointers in the final 1:52-Duke consistently inbounded to Redick and the NCAA's all-time free-throw shooting leader calmly knocked down his shots. He was 13-for-14 from the free-throw stripe on the game.

"They were really amped to stop me at the beginning of the game and they expended a lot of energy doing that," Redick said. "We were aggressive enough to take advantage of that. And then once the game settled down I eventually wore those guys down."

NOTES:

Redick's first three-pointer of the game-which came from about 30 feet-moved the senior into second on Duke's all-time scoring list, ahead of Christian Laettner. Redick now has 2,494 points, just 62 behind associate head coach Johnny Dawkins' school record.... Redick is now just one three-pointer away from tying the NCAA career record for three-pointers, currently held by Curtis Staples at 413.... McRoberts missed all six of his shots from the field, but he managed to reel in 12 rebounds.... The Blue Devils are now 5-4 against Maryland over the past four years.

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