There is something special about Cameron Indoor Stadium. Maybe it’s the tight quarters, maybe it’s the Crazies, maybe it’s just the comfort of playing at home. But whatever it is, the product is outstanding basketball by Duke on both ends of the court. In their first game since its devastating loss in Miami, Duke put on a show against Maryland en route to an 84-64 victory in Cameron.
Led by freshman guard Rasheed Sulaimon‘s game-high 25 points, the Blue Devils looked like a Mike Krzyzewski team. Competing on both ends, making shots and getting contributions from everyone. Sulaimon broke out of his recent shooting slump to make his first six three point attempts, tying the school’s freshman record for made three’s.
“I didn’t think he started out well,” Coach K said. “When we took him out, we got on him. He did something that I think is so terrific. He said ‘I got you coach, I’ll do better.’ He just embraced responsibility and anyone who embraces responsibility has a chance to do better. He came in the game and he gave us a huge lift. That was a great performance especially after he started out that way.”
Sulaimon was pulled out at the 16:01 mark of the first half with Duke up 10-7, but all seven of Maryland’s points were scored by the freshman’s assignment, Dez Wells. He came back in a few minutes later and promptly buried a three pointer and drew the and-1 foul on Pe’Shon Howard to begin his scoring barrage.
The four-point play started a stretch where nobody on Duke besides its young guard scored for 3:30 with Sulaimon scoring 13 straight points. Amile Jefferson hit a layup to break the All-Sheed run and extend Duke’s lead to 29-20 midway through the first half of play.
Jefferson got another start in place or Ryan Kelly and played well, scoring 11 points with nine rebounds and three blocks.
“Ryan is our second best shooter. The court is spread and there’s just more room with him on the court,” Krzyzewski said. “Amile has to be a real activity player. I thought he was. He made a couple of strong moves and strong finishes.
“His first real game was against N.C. State with Ryan out. You get fouls, you learn and there are things you can only pick up in a game. He’s not afraid. He plays with great enthusiasm and he’s going to be a great player here.”
The Blue Devils kept Maryland at bay, leading by a good margin from end to end. A layup by Quinn Cook at the 14:01 mark of the first half gave Duke a 14-13 lead that they would never relinquish.
“I thought they were fantastic, we didn’t play that bad,” said Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon. “At the end we went a little crazy with our shot selection and things, trying to catch up a little bit too quick. All the credit goes to Duke and the way they played today, bounced back which you kind of figure they would.”
Jimmy Kelley is the founder and lead writer for Devils in Durham. Follow him on Twitter @DevilsinDurham