No. 7 Duke Holds Off Maryland

Heading into Wednesday night's Duke-Maryland tilt, the big story was about a resurgent Terps team, fresh off an overtime win over the second-ranked Tar Heels, and their sudden NCAA tournament prospects. Despite an inconsistent start to the season -- which included a home loss to Morgan St. and a 85-44 thrashing against the Blue Devils in Durham -- an emotional home court victory over the ACC's best squad suddenly gave an aimless season direction. If Maryland could manage to upset seventh-ranked Duke, their tournament ticket would be punched.

Duke 78-Maryland 67: Box Score | AP Recap | ACC Standings

It didn't happen. Perhaps the Terps were mentally spent after their dramatic win over the Heels. More likely: Duke, on most nights, is the better team. Maryland played inspired for stretches, but late-game foul trouble would be their eventual undoing.

Lost amid all the pre-game hype was the fact that Duke, too, has struggled with inconsistency this season. The low point, it could be argued, came two weeks ago when Coach Mike Krzyzewski admitted, unprovoked, that "We're not as good as they are right now," in the minutes after UNC beat Duke 101 87 in Cameron Indoor Stadium. But the things that don't kill you, as they saying goes.

Which helps explain last Sunday's 101-91 victory over eighth-ranked Wake Forest.

"Tonight was a huge game for us," Krzyzewski said. "It was as big a game as we've had in three years. ... So whatever you can do ethically, legally and physically, you got to try to do."

There's still much to be decided -- including an end-of-season rematch against the Tar Heels -- but Coach K has to be pleased with how his team has responded after a 2-6 stretch to start the month.

No. 7 Duke Holds Off Maryland originally appeared on NCAA Basketball FanHouse on Wed, 25 Feb 2009 23:45:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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