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Maryland's ACC-best defense struggles against Sulaimon, No. 1 Duke in 84-64 loss

  • Duke's Tyler Thornton (3) and Josh Hairston, right, struggle for a rebound with Maryland's Alex Len during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Durham, N.C., Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)The Associated Press

  • Maryland's Charles Mitchell (0) reacts to a foul during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Duke in Durham, N.C., Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013. Duke won 84-64. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)The Associated Press

  • Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon directs his team during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Duke in Durham, N.C., Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013. Duke won 84-64. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)The Associated Press

Maryland finally ran into an offense it couldn't stop.

The stingiest defense in the Atlantic Coast Conference allowed No. 1 Duke to shoot 52 percent in an 84-64 loss to the Blue Devils on Saturday.

Mark Turgeon's team hadn't allowed a team to shoot better than 44 percent all season. But the Terrapins had no answer for Duke freshman Rasheed Sulaimon, who scored a season-high 25 points.

"We made some mistakes defensively that got him going," Turgeon said. "Our ball screen defense wasn't good enough all day, and theirs was really good. That was the difference in the game."

Dez Wells and Charles Mitchell both had 13 points for the Terrapins (15-5, 3-4). They have lost four of six and were denied their first victory at Cameron Indoor Stadium since 2007 and first win over a No. 1 team since '08.

"We really played hard in the first 25 minutes, but I'll look at the last 15 minutes," Mitchell said. "That's when you're supposed to learn how to play and win the game, and we didn't do that."

Mason Plumlee added 19 points and Seth Curry had 13 to help the Blue Devils (17-2, 4-2) bounce back from one of their worst losses under coach Mike Krzyzewski.

"This was just a game to show basically what our character was like," Sulaimon said. "Are we going to fold after a big loss, or are we going to step up and be men?"

They had just four turnovers — none in the second half — while hitting 11 3-pointers. Plumlee finished 9 of 12 while Sulaimon was 9 of 13 with six 3s — twice as many as his previous high, and four in a 3-minute span of the first half.

That came after he earned a seat on the bench because Wells was beating him on the boards.

"When we took him out, we got on him and he did something that I think is so terrific. ... He said, 'I got you, Coach. I'll do better,'" Krzyzewski said. "He just embraced responsibility, and anybody who embraces responsibility has a chance to do better. 'It's my fault. I'm responsible for it.' He came in the game and he gave us a huge lift there."

Alex Len, who leads Maryland with a 13.5-point scoring average, finished with eight points and 10 rebounds. But aside from an early reverse dunk over Plumlee that looked effortless, he was essentially a nonfactor against a Duke front line that was without injured 6-foot-11 forward Ryan Kelly for the fourth straight game.

The tough job of replacing him fell to high-energy freshman Amile Jefferson, who responded in his second straight start with 11 points and nine rebounds while blocking four shots and affecting several others.

His layup with 9:23 left gave the Blue Devils their largest lead to that point at 66-53. That came during the late 19-8 run that put Duke in complete control.

Logan Aronhalt pulled Maryland within single digits for the final time when his 3-pointer with 13 minutes left made it 58-49. Sulaimon countered with his sixth 3 to start the run, and Quinn Cook capped it with a jumper that put the Blue Devils up 20 for the first time, 77-57 with 4:39 left.

Cook finished with 11 points for Duke, which was coming off its most lopsided regular-season loss since 1984, a 90-63 beatdown at No. 25 Miami that will assuredly send the Blue Devils tumbling from No. 1.

"Everybody has to look in the mirror and say, 'What do I need to do?'" Plumlee said. "It's not fun. We hate losing, naturally. People are always like, 'What did Coach do to you?' We don't like losing. Coach isn't the only one who hates to lose."

The only thing resembling a bright spot in that complete clunker might have been Sulaimon, who led them in scoring for the first time with 16 points while taking another step out of a midseason slump in which he was 7 of 32 during a rough four-game stretch.

The Terrapins hadn't allowed a conference opponent to shoot better than 38 percent this season, and they might have kept that going had Sulaimon not turned this one into his personal shootaround.

He hit four straight 3-pointers and scored 13 points during a 15-5 run that gave Duke its first bit of breathing room. That burst included a four-point play and a deep 3 in transition that had Turgeon calling time out to cool him off and drew "Holy 'Sheed" chants from the Cameron Crazies.

"After that, everything else just kept falling in," Sulaimon said.