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Duke Basketball: 5 Keys to Beating Maryland Terrapins in ACC Showdown

David AldridgeFeatured ColumnistFebruary 14, 2013

Duke Basketball: 5 Keys to Beating Maryland Terrapins in ACC Showdown

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    The Duke Blue Devils came away with an ugly 73-68 victory against the North Carolina Tar Heels on Wednesday night in Cameron Indoor Stadium (ESPN.com).

    The win moved Duke's record to 22-2 and 9-2 in the ACC, where they still trail Miami by two games in the conference standings.

    However, as Mike Krzyzewski often says, it's now on to the next play and the next opponent.

    Now, the Blue Devils go on the road to face the Maryland Terrapins in what is certain to be a hostile environment. With Maryland leaving the ACC after this season to join the Big 10, this could be the last time these two teams face each other for the foreseeable future.

    Here are five keys for Duke beating Maryland in Saturday's ACC showdown.

1. Make Alex Len Play Away from the Basket

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    Alex Len is the key to Maryland's team. The 7'1" sophomore averages 12.5 points and eight rebounds per game while shooting almost 55 percent from the field.

    According to NBADraft.net, Len is currently projected as a lottery pick in the upcoming 2013 NBA Draft.

    In the first game between these two teams, Duke was able to hold Len to eight points and 10 rebounds.

    Len is too talented to completely stop but Duke should focus on taking away his position on the low block. If Mason Plumlee and the other post players can force Len to catch the ball away from the basket, it makes him much less effective with his low-post game and his ability to grab offensive rebounds.

2. Keep Maryland off the Offensive Glass

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    According to StatSheet.com, Maryland averages 12.5 offensive rebounds per game, which is second in the conference behind North Carolina.

    In the game against Duke on January 26, the Terrapins were able to collect 16 offensive rebounds and freshman Charles Mitchell was a monster on the offensive glass.

    Mitchell finished the game with six offensive rebounds and also chipped in 13 points.

    Duke has struggled keeping opponents off the offensive glass all season and it was never more evident than when they gave up 18 offensive rebounds to UNC on Wednesday night.

    The Blue Devils have been able to overcome their rebounding struggles so far, but giving extra opportunities to a struggling team like Maryland could be dangerous.

3. Pressure the Ball

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    One of Maryland's biggest struggles this season has been it's lack of consistent point guard play.

    Pe'Shon Howard and Nick Faust have played well at times, but neither has been able to take over the role and give the type of production Mark Turgeon is looking for.

    The inconsistent guard play has also been a big reason why Maryland is currently ranked last in the ACC in turnovers with 15.4 turnovers per game.

    The pressure that Duke's guards are able to put on the ball should frustrate the Terrapin guards into turning the ball over and giving the Blue Devils opportunities to make plays in transition. Look for Tyler Thornton and Rasheed Sulaimon to be extremely active and disruptive on the defensive end.

4. Contributions from Role Players

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    Duke's role players have stepped up over the past few games, which has helped the team overcome the loss of Ryan Kelly.

    Alex Murphy brought great energy off the bench against NC State, Josh Hairston took a key charge late in the game against Boston College and Tyler Thornton knocked down some huge shots against North Carolina.

    This could be a game where Amile Jefferson is able to have a big impact.

    In the first contest between the two teams, Jefferson had one of his best games of the year, finishing with 11 points and nine rebounds.

    Another performance like this would give the Blue Devils a huge lift on the road.

5. Push the Tempo

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    Maryland has scored more than 70 points in only one of its last 10 games and the Terrapins have struggled on offense all season.

    With only Dez Wells and Alex Len averaging in double figures in scoring, getting baskets has been a premium for Mark Turgeon's team.

    If Quinn Cook and the rest of the Blue Devils can push the tempo and turn this into a high-scoring game, it will be very difficult for Maryland to keep up.

    Playing fast will also give Mason Plumlee the opportunity to make plays in transition and will likely tire out Alex Len, who is more effective in the half-court.

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