Mark Turgeon had a double challenge when his team faced Duke today.
His Maryland Terrapins were playing the Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Stadium, one of the most difficult places to lace 'em up in college basketball.
But they were also the first opponent after Mike Krzyzewski's crew was embarrassed at Miami earlier in the week.
Duke beat Maryland 84-64, but the sun is still shining on the Terps in the 2012-13 season.
With a 15-5 record (3-4 ACC), they are in relatively good shape when it comes to the path ahead of them.
Sure, no one likes losing a game by 20 points. But Turgeon can hopefully use this defeat as another step in the journey towards Maryland's climb back towards being an ACC contender.
Oddly enough, Maryland has already played the tougher part of its conference slate.
It will not face NC State or Miami again.
The Terps will host both Duke (Feb. 16) and North Carolina (Mar. 6) at the Comcast Center, where they are 13-1 so far in 2012-13.
Even with the unfortunate outcome of today's battle with Duke, Maryland's inside-game strength was obvious.
The Terrapins out-rebounded the Blue Devils 42-31, including 16 offensive rebounds.
On the season, Maryland is the No. 5 rebounding team in the country, averaging 43 boards per game.
The Terrapins' individual play continues to show signs of promise.
Alex Len is a force in the paint. The 7'1" sophomore is more athletic than people think. When he drove baseline and threw down a reverse dunk on National Player of the Year candidate Mason Plumlee, Len showed that he was more than just a back-to-the-basket post player.
Freshman PF Charles Mitchell had his best ACC game, putting up 13 points and grabbing seven rebounds (six on the offensive glass) in only 13 minutes of action.
Even though Mitchell is only averaging 16.6 minutes of action per game, the 6'8", 260-lb. beast is Maryland's No. 2 rebounder (6.2 rpg).
He understands where he can do the most damage: in the paint and on the block. Though he has a lot of room for development and improvement, Mitchell can be a part of Maryland's stretch run this season.
Sophomore wing Dez Wells continues to use his versatility to create havoc on both ends of the court. The 6'5" wing uses his physicality and athleticism to make plays that most of his Maryland teammates cannot.
This is a crucial moment for Turgeon's team. They need to shore up some of the things that have plagued them all season (three-point shooting, FT shooting) Maryland needs to get ready to attack the rest of its schedule with the same intensity that it showed when it recently beat NC State
The Terrapins have a chance to put today's setback behind them later this week when they travel to Tallahassee to face the Florida State Seminoles in what could be a very important game down the road when it comes to the ACC race and postseason considerations.
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