DURHAM, N.C. -- This is why Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski didn’t want Maryland to leave the ACC.
This is why the Blue Devils’ rivalry with the Terrapins at one point was even more important to the league than their rivalry with North Carolina.
This is why, whether it was Lefty Driesell, Gary Williams or now Mark Turgeon on the sideline coaching, Duke’s annual meetings with Maryland will be missed when the Terps join the Big Ten next season.
“I’m a guy that’s always into the old school,” said Duke’s Jabari Parker, who scored a game-high 23 points. “The legacy of this rivalry is just going to last forever.”
It wasn’t a classic in the sense of big shots being traded, but it was vintage in the way they competed. The teams added drama by packing all seven ties and six lead changes into the game’s final nine minutes.
It culminated when Maryland forward Charles Mitchell’s shot with five seconds left teased the rim long enough to envision celebrating a last-second win. But the ball came back off the front of the rim to seal Duke’s 69-67 victory.
“I don’t know how Charles’ shot didn’t go in,” Turgeon said. “They called on the ‘Duke gods,’ I don’t know what happened. It was rolling in and all of a sudden it’s rolling out.”
And with that, the series that has been played every season since 1930 with the exception of 1943-44 and 1948-49, rolls to a stop for the foreseeable future. Maryland leaves for a bigger payday in the Big Ten to help stop the hemorrhaging of its athletic department coffers.
“Over the years, those players and the coaches and the teams that have shared these unforgettable moments, I don’t know what price, what it’s worth because it won’t be replicated,” Krzyzewski said. “There will be other rivalries and other games, but ...”
It won’t be Duke-Maryland.
Duke guard Quinn Cook, a Washington, D.C., native, grew up watching Maryland’s 2002 national title team that featured Juan Dixon, who is now an assistant coach for the Terps, Lonny Baxter and Steve Blake. He wouldn’t mind extending the series with another chapter in the postseason.
“It’s sad it’s coming to an end -- two great programs, and every game, it’s really never a blowout, it’s always a really tough game,” Cook said. “Hopefully we get to play them in the ACC tournament and keep the games going.”
They would have to meet in the tournament because there won’t be a return game. For the first time since the league started in 1953-54, the Blue Devils won’t visit College Park, Md. Neither does North Carolina, which was the unofficial parting shot to Maryland from the ACC.
“We didn’t play for ourselves, we played for all former coaches, all former players, all former students because we played for Maryland,” Turgeon said. “We knew we weren’t going to get them at our place. This was our one chance.”
The stakes weren’t as high as they’ve been throughout the series. This wasn’t 1984 and Driesell winning his first ACC tournament title by beating the Blue Devils or Duke’s furious rally to beat the Terps in the 2001 Final Four.
This was a Maryland team trying to peek above .500 in the ACC and score its first win over a ranked team this season and possibly rekindle NCAA tournament hopes.
How else can you explain the way the Terps played? They had lost five ACC road games by an average margin of 14.6 including a 24-point dud at Florida State and a 20-point loss to Pittsburgh.
But here they were up 67-64 against the No. 8-ranked Blue Devils when Wells drilled a 3-pointer with 2:50 left. It was the final basket the Terps would score.
Parker, who was the only Duke player not struggling offensively all game, put the Blue Devils ahead for good with 1:19 left. For a split second he thought about a 3-pointer over Maryland’s Jake Layman, going as far as a pump fake. But he dribbled past Layman and rose for a dunk with Damonte Dodd rotating over to contest it.
“I kind of wanted to shoot it at first because on the first time [Layman] didn’t really contest the jump shot,” Parker said. “But then I saw the lane open up, my teammates moved out and I just needed to take it because we were also in the bonus and getting free throws.”
Duke struggled shooting all game and only made six baskets in the second half, but its defense made the game-winning plays down the stretch.
Rodney Hood, who played with four fouls the final 16 minutes of the game, asked to defend Wells in the final minute. Wells had scored all 17 of his points in the second half, but the 6-foot-8 Hood’s length bothered Wells on a shot that could have given the Terps the lead with 56 seconds left.
“Most of his stuff was in transition. When he gets a full head of steam I don’t think there’s anybody really who can get in front of him so in the halfcourt I just wanted to make him shoot over the top,” Hood said. “He wants to get to the basket. I just contested late and he missed the shot.”
Mitchell twice had chances to give the Terps the lead. On his first attempt, Parker came from the help side to block his shot out of bounds with five seconds. The second was the last regular-season gasp in the rivalry.
“This was a game where I know everybody that has ever been a part of our program wanted to play in and wanted to win especially the way we won on defense,” Duke’s Rasheed Sulaimon said. “That was a vintage Duke play and I think it’s the right way that I guess this rivalry, or great games that we’ve been having, I think it was the right way it ended with Duke getting a defensive stop.”
Early in the game the Cameron Crazies chanted “not our rival,” but even they will miss playing the Terps for games like this.
“That was vintage Cameron, man,” Krzyzewski said. “That was one for the ages.”