ACC Tournament: Duke 87, Maryland 71

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 11, 2011

By Joedy McCreary
Associated Press
GREENSBORO ó Duke won another postseason tournament game. The Blue Devils hope they havenít lost another star guard.
Kyle Singler scored 29 points, and after Nolan Smith went down with a toe injury, No. 5 Duke pulled away to beat Maryland 87-71 on Friday night in the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament.
Mason Plumlee added 10 points and 11 rebounds for the second-seeded Blue Devils (28-4), but Smith ó the league player of the year ó injured the second toe on his left foot with under 7 minutes left.
The reigning national champions and two-time defending ACC tournament winners held Maryland without a field goal for 6 minutes down the stretch to reach the conference semifinals for the fourth straight year.
Duke, which hasnít lost in the leagueís postseason event since the 2008 semifinals, is trying to win its 10th league tournament title in 13 years and ACC-record 19th overall.
Krzyzewski called Smith questionable for the semifinals Saturday, and expressed hope that the playmaking guard will be back on the floor by the start of the NCAA tournament.
ěWeíre going to try to make a long run, with or without him,î Krzyzewski said. ěIf he canít play (Saturday) ó and Iím not saying he wonít play, because Iíll find out later ó but if he canít, or weíre risking something and we have to keep him out, weíll probably have until Friday if we go to Charlotte to get him with the right type of shoe and stuff like that.
ěTo make a run in the NCAA, you need your players,î Krzyzewski continued. ěThereís no question. Nolan has been a player of the year in our conference, so itís not just losing a player. Itís losing an outstanding player, if we donít have him.î
Smith, the 14th Duke player to win the conferenceís top award, was hurt with 6:48 left when he planted in the lane and fell to the court. He did not return, and Krzyzewski said the guard would have X-rays.
ěIím sure heíll be fine,î teammate Ryan Kelly said. ěNolanís a warrior and heíll be ready to go.î
Still, the injury couldnít help but evoke memories of the injured toe that has kept freshman point guard Kyrie Irving out for the past three months. Coincidentally, Irving was seen jogging, shuffling and shooting around about 90 minutes before tipoff in uniform shorts and sneakers. He was dressed in street clothes and topsiders for the game.
ěHeís not going to magically appear tomorrow or anything like that because he hasnít done anything with the team,î Krzyzewski said. ěBut itís coming along great.î
Smith was having a rough night before he was injured. He missed his first seven shots and finished with seven points on 2-of-11 shooting with five turnovers and only two assists.
ěNolan wasnít having his normal outstanding game, and then he gets hurt,î Krzyzewski said. ěI thought after he got hurt, for the last eight minutes of the game, our guys were incredibly tough.î
Jordan Williams had 16 points and 16 rebounds to lead the seventh-seeded Terrapins (19-14), who kept things tight for much of the second half and pulled to 63-60 on Dino Gregoryís layup with 10:15 remaining.
Singler hit a driving layup with just under 9 minutes left to start the decisive surge. Duke reeled off nine straight points, and outscored Maryland 11-1 over a 41/2-minute span as part of the 24-9 run it rode to an 18-point lead in the final minute.
ěWe played pretty well for 35 or 36 minutes tonight,î Gregory said. ěIn order to beat a team like Duke, the No. 5-ranked team in the country, youíve got to play 40 minutes strong. We werenít able to do that tonight.î
Singler picked up the slack for his fellow senior, hitting 10 of 15 shots to finish one point shy of his career high. Seth Curry, who helped shoulder the burden at point guard following Smithís injury, converted a momentum-building three-point play during the run.
ěI was just concerned for Nolan. I didnít feel any pressure, and I wasnít worried,î Singler said. ěI just hoped that he didnít get seriously hurt.î
Curry and Kelly both finished with 11 points while Miles Plumlee had 10. Kelly, who earlier in the season made 18 consecutive shots over a four-game span, had a near-perfect shooting night ó hitting all five of his attempts from the field but missing his only try from the free-throw line.
ěI got a couple of open looks and just knocked them down,î Kelly said.
Kellyís 3 with 31/2 minutes left broke a 31-all tie and started Dukeís 11-2 run that closed the half. Singlerís drive down the lane with 4 seconds to go gave the Blue Devils a 42-33 lead at the break. But until midway through the second half, the Terrapins never let them pull too far ahead.