COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Wednesday night, in one of the nation's most hostile environments, Gerald Henderson stepped up.
With 5:22 left in the game, Henderson stepped up, elevated and drained a huge three from the left side of the court to put his team up 63-60.
At the 3:24 mark, Henderson stepped up and out in front of a driving Greivis Vasquez, drawing the charge and sending the Terrapins' best player to the bench for good with five fouls and Maryland down six.
And a mere 15 seconds before that, Henderson stepped up to the free-throw line, sinking his two shots on a 1-and-1 to put Duke ahead 68-62 after Maryland looked like it had all the momentum.
Wherever and whenever the Blue Devils needed their standout junior on offense in their 78-67 victory, he was there.
But wherever and whenever the Terrapins didn't want to find Henderson on defense, he was there, too-registering four blocks, six defensive rebounds and a steal on the night.
"[His blocks are] huge because once he gets a couple of those, when those guys are driving, they start thinking, 'Where is he?'" junior Jon Scheyer said. "After a few of those plays, you know that you don't need to follow your man because Gerald will be coming for the block."
At the most crucial points of the contest, Henderson's help-side defense had as much, if not more, impact than his explosive dunks on offense.
With the game knotted at 49-and the Terrapins riding the momentum of two consecutive shot-clock-beating threes from Dave Neal and Eric Hayes-Henderson cut off Sean Mosley, rejecting his jumper near the basket and silencing the notoriously loud Maryland crowd.
And though the Blue Devils wouldn't put the Terrapins away for good until 1:54 remained in the game, Maryland and its fans never regained the same energy they had after the Neal and Hayes buckets but before the Henderson block.
"Coach has been emphasizing to me all season that I've been our best help-side defender, and it's important for our defense because we pressure so much," Henderson said.
As has become the status quo this season, Henderson's line on offense-19 points on 7-of-18 shooting-supports head coach Mike Krzyzewski's postgame assertion that his captain is Duke's most "unbelievable competitor" and "put the team on his back."
Henderson's scoring numbers, however, seem to overshadow his impressive floor game, which, along with the continued consistent guard play of Elliot Williams, set the tone for his team and lifted Duke to one of its strongest road wins of the year.
Beyond his eight rebounds and three assists, Henderson sparked what ultimately proved the game's biggest play.
With the ball just to the left of the top of the key and Duke up six with 1:54 to go, Henderson passed up a shot, kicking the ball crosscourt to Kyle Singler on the baseline. Singler dished it to Williams, who bulleted the ball to a wide-open Scheyer standing just beyond the 3-point arc near the right free-throw line extended.
Scheyer stroked it in, putting the Blue Devils up nine and effectively sealing the victory.
After Scheyer connected, Henderson briefly flashed a smile as the 17,950 fans in attendance all seemed to put their hands on their heads in exasperation.
Because the Terrapins could not slay two straight conference giants after beating North Carolina Saturday and because Henderson seemed to single-handedly dash their hopes.
"Where is he?" a Maryland player might have asked Wednesday night.
Unfortunately for the Terrapins, Gerald Henderson was everywhere.
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