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Friday, March 11, 2011

Duke takes Maryland's best punch, moves on—but without Smith?

Posted by on Fri, Mar 11, 2011 at 10:35 PM

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GREENSBORO COLISEUM—Maryland came ready to play and with what Gary Williams termed a belief they could defeat Duke in the third ACC Tournament quarterfinal Friday night. With 10:15 to play they trailed just 63-60, but the Blue Devils pulled away in the final 10 minutes to win 87-71. Kyle Singler led the way with 29 points while Miles Plumlee grabbed 8 offensive boards and Mason had a double-double of 10 points and 11 boards.

The star of the end game, however, was Seth Curry, who took over point guard duties after Nolan Smith left the game with a toe injury. Curry had 11 points, three assists, three steals, and no turnovers, and converted a three-point play late on that Coach K described as the backbreaker.

His role could be even bigger tomorrow as Nolan Smith's status for Saturday's semifinal is uncertain and won't be known until Saturday. Krzyzewski added that Kyrie Irving will not "magically appear" tomorrow, although he did participate in pregame shooting.

In an interesting exchange, Coach K described Curry's evolution during the season. At the start of the year with Irving healthy, his role was to get spacing and find his shot. But with Irving out his game has had to evolve, and K called him a solid "all-around" player, not just a jump shooter, and told Curry (sitting beside him) to prepare for Saturday as if Smith cannot play. At the same time, Krzyzewski said Smith is essential to an NCAA tourney run, adding he believed he will be back by next week.

Duke plays either Virginia Tech or Florida State in the second semifinal of the ACC Tournament Saturday afternoon.

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