While Duke's six-game winning streak began with an easy victory over Maryland three weeks ago, it's since encountered a few close calls.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski expects another difficult challenge in College Park.
The No. 2 Blue Devils try to continue their dominance of a Terrapins team that's had plenty of time to prepare for Saturday's showdown.
Freshman Rasheed Sulaimon had a season-high 25 points to lead all five starters in double figures as Duke (22-2, 9-2 ACC) cruised to an 84-64 rout of Maryland on Jan. 26. While the Blue Devils also posted one-sided victories over Florida State and North Carolina State during their run, each of their other three wins proved much more challenging.
After getting by Wake Forest 75-70 on the road Jan. 30, Duke had its hands full again Sunday in a 62-61 win at Boston College. The Blue Devils then trailed for the first 26 minutes Wednesday against archrival North Carolina before picking up the pace in a 73-68 victory.
"It's just the heart and the will to want to win," said reserve Tyler Thornton, who scored nine on 3-of-4 from 3-point range to match his total from the previous three games. "Especially coming down the stretch, you've got to go all out and leave it on the floor, and I think we did that."
Mason Plumlee recorded his 14th double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds against the Tar Heels and Quinn Cook also scored 18.
"It means a lot," Plumlee said of the win. "More importantly, I think this team has a chance to do something special."
Duke now turns its attention back to the Terrapins (17-7, 5-6), whom it's taken 12 of 13 from, including six straight by an average of 15.4 points. Despite that success, Krzyzewski knows his team can't afford to overlook what could be a desperate Maryland team.
"For us, we're coming off a tough week. I mean - it's been great - we have two wins, but travel, emotional play. Maryland's been off all week, so they've been able to prime for us - a little bit how Boston College had," Krzyzewski said.
"For Maryland, this is survival. This is more than a game, this is a season maybe for them. This is the type of competition we get at this time of year, and we have to be prepared for their very best shot."
The Terrapins are surely looking forward to getting back on the floor for the first time since Sunday's 80-69 loss to Virginia. Maryland fell to 14-2 at home after allowing the Cavaliers to shoot 54.2 percent, its highest mark surrendered all season.
The Terrapins, whose 36.7 opponent field-goal percentage ranks fifth in the country, have gone 11-0 when holding teams to under 34.5 percent compared to 6-7 when they don't. The Blue Devils are shooting 50.6 percent during their winning streak.
"Guys have to be ready to go," Maryland senior Logan Aronhalt said. "If they're not, then I don't know what's wrong."
While the Terrapins enter the weekend having dropped six of 10, beating Duke could do wonders for their confidence going forward.
"It's a big, big, big game," guard Nick Faust said. "We have to try to get the win."
Maryland has lost 18 of its last 19 matchups against Top-25 opponents, with its lone win coming 51-50 over then-No. 14 North Carolina State on Jan. 16.
The Associated Press News Service
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