Blue Devils take down the Terps|Thornton, Curry spark Duke rally

Published 6:27 pm Monday, January 10, 2011

By By Associated Press
DURHAM — Just when Duke seemed to be out of answers early in the second half Sunday night, a pair of unlikely contributors entered the game.
Freshman guard Tyler Thornton spent the entire first half on the bench and had totaled just six minutes in the previous two games. Sophomore guard Seth Curry hadn’t scored in the first half and managed just a total of five points in his previous two outings.
But with Maryland holding a six-point lead and handcuffing senior guard Nolan Smith with its defense, Thornton and Curry came off the bench to spark a quick turnaround and a 71-64 win for top-ranked Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Curry scored nine of his 12 points in a period of 3:07 as Duke turned a 38-32 deficit into a 46-40 lead.
“We were missing badly, and he came in and knocked some (shots) down for us,” said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski. “And those two kids came in and turned the game around.”
Kyle Singler scored 25 points and 10 rebounds to lead Duke (15-0, 2-0 ACC) to its 25th straight win dating back to last season. Smith added 18 points and eight assists, but shot just 5-for-18 from the field against a Maryland (10-5, 0-2) defense that held Duke to 40.3 percent from the field.
The Terrapins were the last team to defeat Duke, scoring a 79-72 win at College Park, Md., on March 3 in a game that helped secure a share of the 2010 ACC regular season title for Maryland.
Sophomore center Jordan Williams scored 23 points and grabbed 13 rebounds against a Duke front line that was plagued by mistakes and foul trouble. Cliff Tucker added 14 points for the Terrapins off the bench.
Singler’s tip-in of an Andre Dawkins miss gave Duke a 32-31 lead at halftime, but Maryland scored the first seven points of the second half with the help of two field goals by Sean Mosley. Smith was frustrated.
“They were making everything tough for me,” Smith said. “When I was coming off ball screens, when I drove, they were crowding the lane.”
Krzyzewski switched gears with 17 minutes, 32 seconds to go, inserting Thornton and Curry to play with Smith in a small lineup. He moved Singler from small forward to power forward.
Thornton’s presence at point guard gave Smith a chance to play off the ball on defense and offense. The plan was to allow Smith to catch the ball on the wing with his dribble alive rather than starting the offense with a live dribble.
It turned into so much more. Thornton forced two quick turnovers and wound up with four steals in 12 minutes. He also drove the right side of the lane to swish a running one hander.
Even Krzyzewski said he wouldn’t have predicted that Thornton would have that kind of impact on the game.
“For Tyler to play as well as he did, it is really one of the things that makes you love coaching,” Krzyzewski said.
Curry immediately hit a 16-footer from in front of the Duke bench. He hit two of three free throws, another 16-footer and a 3-pointer from the baseline in his quick scoring binge.
Suddenly, Duke led 46-40. Although Maryland would come back to tie the game at 46-46 and then stayed close behind Williams and Tucker, the momentum had shifted.
“I had my confidence really high in that second half,” Curry said proudly. “When you’re a shooter and you’ve got our confidence up, you feel like you can make every shot.”
He didn’t make every shot. But he provided enough offense and Thornton lifted the defense to thwart one of the strongest challenges Duke has faced.
(c) 2011, The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.).
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