It began as a bit of advice from his girlfriend, and it ended with Duke junior forward Chris Carrawell sitting in his hotel room and going over tape after tape of Maryland on the eve of yesterday's game between the two top-five teams.
"She told me that I had to step up my game," Carrawell said yesterday. "So I got the VCR out at the hotel, and watched tape a little bit extra. And it helped."
It helped Carrawell put what amounted to a defensive clamp on Steve Francis, particularly in the second half, when the Maryland guard missed all seven of his shots and scored one point. And with Francis bottled up, it was No. 2 Duke that walked away from Cole Field House with the 82-64 win over the fourth-ranked Terrapins.
In victory, Carrawell looked like a big-time loser -- resembling more a boxer who went 15 rounds with Mike Tyson. An inadvertent poke from Laron Profit with five minutes left in the game left the Duke forward with an ice pack pressed against a right eye that was black on the outside and bloody inside.
"Yeah, I look like a fighter that got knocked out, but we threw the knockout punch," said Carrawell, who earlier this season had seven stitches to close a cut under that same eye. "I'm OK. I can still see out of the eye. The important thing is that we won the game."
Carrawell's final line was far from overwhelming, but steady: nine points, seven rebounds, five assists in 30 minutes. He began the game defending Profit, but, at halftime, coach Mike Krzyzewski notified him that his primary focus in the second half would be Francis. He was up to the challenge.
"Not to take anything away from him, but all you heard this year was 'Francis, Francis, Francis,' " Carrawell said. "Even back in Durham, people were saying, 'Francis is tough' and 'Maryland's going to beat you.'
"I just wanted to see where I was at as a player," Carrawell said. "You want to challenge the cream of the crop, and he's definitely one of the cream of the crop."
Carrawell's focus was to keep Francis in front of him, hoping to take away the drives to the basket that have filled many highlight shows this season.
"I figured I wanted to stay in front of him, and when he got by me, I got lots of help," Carrawell said. "When you watch tape of him, sometimes you're left saying, 'Oh, my God.' You don't want to get 'posterized.' Once I even held him, thinking I'd rather take the foul than get beat."
That "by any means necessary" game plan was effective, and appreciated by Krzyzewski and his teammates.
"We got great play from Chris Carrawell and Nate James," Krzyzewski said. "[Chris] did as good a job as you're going to do on Steve Francis. Francis is phenomenal."
Said teammate Trajan Langdon: "Chris has those long arms, and he's a little bigger [6 feet 6] than Francis [6-3]. He just made it tough for [Francis] to score."
And when that happens, it makes it tough for Maryland to win. As Francis scored just 11 points -- more than five below his average -- the rest of the team suffered as well. Maryland shot just 36.8 percent for the game, 25.0 percent in the second half.
That accounted for the 18-point victory, and as Duke raced off the court, Carrawell -- with the ice bag pressed to his face -- pumped his fist and screamed, "yeah, yeah" as he exited.
"I was just celebrating because Maryland has some brutal fans and they were yelling and cussing us out all game," said Carrawell. "I never thought we'd win by . But we're a team that's used to big games. And we came away with the win."
NOTE: A fight that broke out between Maryland and Duke fans after yesterday's game at Cole Field House resulted in one arrest, according to campus police.
Keechukwu Michael Inejeto, age and hometown unknown, was charged with two counts of assault during the fight that took place in the stands behind the Duke bench, campus police said. A second individual who was taken into custody during the incident was later released with no charges filed.
School W-L Pct. W-L Pct.
Duke 2-0 1.000 13-1 .929
Fla. State 1-0 1.000 7-5 .583
Maryland 1-1 .500 13-2 .867
N. Carolina 1-1 .500 13-3 .813
N.C. State 1-1 .500 10-3 .769
Ga. Tech 1-1 .500 10-4 .714
Wake Forest 1-1 .500 10-4 .714
Clemson 0-2 .000 11-3 .786
Virginia 0-2 .000 9-5 .643
Yesterday's result Duke 82, Maryland 64
Tomorrow's game N.C. State at Clemson, 8
North Carolina 69, Clemson 53
Wake Forest 69, Virginia 53
N.C. State 75, Georgia Tech 69