DURHAM, N.C. - He hoped to see focus. He hoped to see passion. And above all last night, Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams wanted to see the Terrapins walk into hostile Cameron Indoor Stadium and find the confidence that has seemingly been missing for much of the last month.
The Terps found all three things in the unlikeliest of places with a clutch and gritty performance that conjured up memories of their Atlantic Coast Conference tournament run last season.
Riding a huge second half and another take-charge effort from junior forward Nik Caner-Medley, the Terps knocked the second-ranked Blue Devils from the unbeaten ranks with a stunning 75-66 victory before 9,314 fans.
"That was all about the players," said Williams, whose team improved to 12-5, 3-3 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. "We've struggled a little bit with our identity, but we do have pride in our program. After the N.C. State game, I think our players took it upon ourselves to give a good effort. We played with a lot of confidence down the stretch."
Maryland, which was coming off an embarrassing 16-point loss to N.C. State at home on Sunday, trailed by as many as eight points in the second half, before taking the game over down the stretch in a place where Duke (15-1, 5-1) usually gets the opposition to fold.
It was only the sixth home loss for Duke since the 1999-2000 season. The Terps now take credit for three of them. The Blue Devils, who were just one of three unbeaten teams before last night, were in the midst of the third-best start in the program's 100-year history.
Said Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski: "I thought Maryland played better than we did. Caner-Medley was great, and I thought [John] Gilchrist really led his team well. ... They're good. They were the team that deserved to win tonight."
Gilchrist had one of his finest all-around games of the season with 10 points, nine rebounds, three assists and two steals.
"Coach [Williams] knows what it takes to beat Duke," he said. "This is a huge momentum swing for us. This is the type of game that can erase all of those earlier losses."
Caner-Medley did it with his scoring, getting a game-high 25 points on 8-for-13 shooting and carrying his team for stretches of the second half before leaving with a twisted left ankle. Chris McCray held J.J. Redick, the ACC's leading scorer, to seven second-half points, and Travis Garrison and Ekene Ibekwe - both demoted from the starting lineup for the first time this season as Williams hoped for a quick start - put the win away with their free-throw shooting.
Gilchrist ran the offense effectively down the stretch, then sealed the victory with a kiss, giving Garrison a peck on the forehead moments before the final buzzer.
Ibekwe, who came into the game shooting just 57 percent from the foul line, scored 15 points and hit seven of nine free throws. It was Ibekwe who scored the eventual game-winning basket as his layup with 1:21 to play gave the Terps a 66-64 lead.
While Duke missed six of its last seven shots after Shavlik Randolph tied the game at 64, putting back Shelden Williams' missed free throw, the Terps hit nine of 10 free throws in the last minute and finished 20-for-24 from the line for the game.
"It pumped me up," Ibekwe said about his demotion from the starting lineup. Will Bowers started in his place and did a solid jump on Duke's Williams (18 points). Mike Jones started for Garrison.
"It was Coach's decision and I respect that," Ibekwe added, "but I came through for my teammates down the stretch."
So did Caner-Medley, who came out with 1:54 to play after twisting his ankle while contesting an eventual missed layup by Redick. At one point, the Terps' leading scorer, who came in averaging just under 24 points in his past four games, scored nine of the Terps' first 11 points of the second half. His biggest shot might have been the three-pointer he hit from NBA range with 8:38 to go to pull the Terps within 58-57.
"I was real emotional on the bench, but my teammates played with so much heart," said Caner-Medley, who said his left ankle was fine and expected to be ready for the Terps' next practice. "They came up huge down the stretch."
Said Krzyzewski: "I just think [Caner-Medley] overpowered us a few times. If there was one thing that won the game, it was that his desire to win was great."
Caner-Medley said he was motivated by the taunts from the Cameron crowd that started from the moment he stepped on the court for shoot-around. He and Gary Williams said the taunts were much too personal.
"This is exactly what happened last year, and everybody fell off our back," McCray said. "We just fought for this tonight."
The Terps also were buoyed by a pep talk from three former players who dropped by practice unannounced Tuesday. Current Washington Wizards Steve Blake, Juan Dixon and Laron Profit talked to the Maryland players about winning and what their time in a Terps jersey meant to them.
"They said all the right things," Williams said, "but it's up to the players to use that. I'm very impressed with the guys because this wasn't easy."
Maryland shot just under 49 percent in the decisive second half, when they outscored the Blue Devils 45-32. Playing with as much confidence as they've showed since their early season win over Memphis, the Terps led by seven several times in the first half before the Blue Devils made a 16-3 run and went to the locker room with a 34-30 lead.
"We definitely needed this," said McCray, who scored all seven of his points in the second half, but was even more critical in holding Redick (20 points) to 7-of-21 shooting. "We knew we had the talent to play with anybody, and this proves it."
Running with Devils
Maryland has beaten Duke at least once in nine of the past 11 seasons. The Terps' wins during that span:
Date Site Score
1/28/95 Cole 74-72
3/1/95 Cameron 94-92
3/8/96 Greensboro-a 82-69
1/26/97 Cole 74-70
2/9/00 Cameron 98-87
2/27/01 Cameron 91-80
2/17/02 Cole 87-73
1/18/03 Comcast 87-72
3/14/04 Greensboro-a 95-87*
1/26/05 Cameron 75-66
a-ACC tournament; *-overtime
Next for Maryland
Matchup: No. 22 Georgia Tech (11-5, 2-3) vs. Maryland (12-5, 3-3)
Site: Comcast Center, College Park
When: Sunday, 5:30 p.m.
TV/Radio: Comcast SportsNet/WBAL (1090 AM)