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NCAA Basketball ACC BasketballDuke Blue Devils

Duke Blue Devils’ Starters Show Signs of Getting Stronger In Maryland Win

Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

 

After suffering their second loss of the season, the Duke Blue Devils blew away the Maryland Terrapins in an 84-64 victory.

It was a role reversal for Duke compared to their embarrassing 90-63 defeat to the Miami(FL) Hurricanes. Duke shot only 29.7% from the field against the Hurricanes, compared to Miami(FL)’s 56.9% from the floor. Against the Terrapins it was the Blue Devils who’d make more than they’d miss by shooting 52.4% from the field.

Duke’s starting five was determined to redeem itself against a talented Maryland squad.

Freshman Rasheed Sulaimon led the Blue Devils in scoring for the second straight game with 25 points, and two assists. Sulaimon was one of the few Duke players that didn’t look downright awful against the Hurricanes after recording 16 points, four steals and three assists.

Sulaimon was always considered a strong freshman guard expected to only get stronger later in the season as he grows more comfortable with the college game. These recent performances could be the first signs of Sulaimon becoming a greater impact player for the Blue Devils.

Another freshman that is showing signs of getting more comfortable on the court is Amile Jefferson. Ryan Kelly’s replacement in the starting line-up built on his 13 points and five assists against Miami(FL) to finish with 11 points, nine rebounds and three blocks against Maryland. The 6-foot-8 forward was expected to provide consistent contributions entering the season but barely saw the court given Duke’s strength in the frontcourt.

Jefferson is talented enough to help soften the blow of Kelly’s loss and he’s starting to prove that after playing the most minutes of his career in the past three games.

A pair of guards rebounded after awful shooting performances.

Quinn Cook quickly forgot about his 1 for 12 outing against the Hurricanes to nearly record a double-double. One of the conference’s best playmakers finished with 11 points, nine assists and five rebounds against the Terrapins.

Seth Curry was allowed back into the Curry family after nearly being kicked out with his 0 for 10 performance in the Miami(FL) loss. Stephon’s little brother bounced back with 13 points, four rebounds and two steals.

Meanwhile, Mason Plumlee looked a lot more like himself playing Maryland despite a double-double against the Hurricanes. Plumlee finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds but committed four turnovers and shot 5 for 15 from the field. He also went 5 for 10 from the free throw line.

Plumlee returned to his usual high shooting percentage self by going 9 for 12 to finish with 19 points in the win over Maryland. He also recorded seven rebounds, three assists, two steals while committing only one turnover. Unfortunately, it wasn’t all perfect as he still struggled from the foul line, shooting only 1 for 5. The senior began the season looking a lot stronger from the free-throw line but in recent weeks has quickly regressed back to being a poor shooter from the charity stripe.

The five starters proved against Maryland that despite the recent blowout loss and not having Kelly in the line-up, this Duke team still isn’t to be taken lightly. It can’t be overlooked the team once led by a trio of seniors is now seeing a freshman duo begin to grab attention.

And the last thing the rest of the conference needed to see was a Blue Devils roster begin to show small signs of getting stronger.

Michael covers ACC and Big East basketball along with the Toronto Raptors for Rant Sports, you can follow him on Twitter @MichaelxRoberts