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Terps aim to spoil party

Senior Jon Scheyer and the Blue Devils will take on Greivis Vasquez and Co. when they visit Durham Saturday in a matchup of the ACC’s leaders.
Senior Jon Scheyer and the Blue Devils will take on Greivis Vasquez and Co. when they visit Durham Saturday in a matchup of the ACC’s leaders.

They may not be the Tar Heels, but the Terrapins have created an interesting rivalry with the Blue Devils over the past decade—a rivalry that will be tested once again at Cameron Indoor Stadium Saturday at 1 p.m.

Over the past decade, No. 8 Duke (20-4, 8-2 in the ACC) and Maryland (16-6, 6-2) have split their most recent meetings with homecourt advantage not guaranteeing victories: while the Blue Devils have won three times in College Park, the Terrapins have won twice in Durham. Aside from ACC play, Duke and Maryland have met twice in the conference tournament championship game and once in the Final Four.

But Saturday’s game represents a rare occasion in the two teams’ rich history as Maryland and Duke, each with two conference losses, both sit atop the ACC standings. Although the Terrapins have pulled out some impressive conference victories this season, including a 92-71 win over North Carolina, tomorrow’s game presents their first opportunity for a statement win to solidify their high conference ranking.

Senior Jon Scheyer understands the importance of this matchup, even after Duke beat the Tar Heels 64-54 Wednesday.

“If we lose to Maryland and don’t show up, that’s the biggest thing,” Scheyer said. “Coach talked about enjoying this win in the locker room and on the bus ride back, but once we get back to Cameron, it’s on to Maryland. And that’s really how it is. When we play them at our place, obviously, that’ll be a game we want to win.”

The Cameron Crazies are also anxiously awaiting the contest as fan foe Greivis Vasquez will come to Cameron for the first time since the Terrapins’ blowout 85-44 loss last season. Vasquez earned the ACC’s Player of the Week Award for the second time this season after averaging 24.5 points, 9 assists and 6 rebounds this week, allowing Maryland to take sole ownership of second place in the conference. The Venezuelan native, who has repeatedly called Cameron “his house,” is a constant target for the Crazies in their cheers.

Vasquez is also known for feeding the fan frenzy by repeatedly interacting with cheering sections and even engaging directly with the few fans who really get under his skin. But Maryland head coach Gary Williams doesn’t see a problem with his top player’s unusual relationship with jeering fans. Williams recently told The Washington Post that he believes the interaction fuels Vasquez’s ability to play better basketball.

“Let’s face it, Greivis, I think, sometimes responds pretty well in those situations,” Williams said. “But I think that’s part of what makes him a very good player.”

Adding to the intensity of an already high-pressure evening, the matchup against Maryland marks Blue Devil head coach Mike Krzyzewski’s 1000th game coaching at Duke. The contest will bring 300 former members of the program back to Durham to honor Krzyzewski’s dedication to the Blue Devils as well as celebrate his 63rd birthday.

Hopefully the Blue Devils’ performance will leave little for Krzyzewski to wish for when he blows out his candles at the end of the night.

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