GREENSBORO, N.C. — Dez Wells gave the floor a hard slap, and No. 2 Duke felt it.
It knocked the Blue Devils out of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament early — and maybe off the No. 1 seed line for the NCAA Tournament.
Wells scored a career-high 30 points and Maryland upset Duke 83-74 on Friday night in an ACC tournament quarterfinal.
Wells was 9 of 13 from the field and 10 of 10 on free throws to lead the seventh-seeded Terrapins (22-11), who delivered the first big shocker of the week at the Greensboro Coliseum and will play third-seeded North Carolina today in their first semifinal appearance since 2009.
“You have to be good and be lucky to beat a great team. We’re a little bit of both,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. “Watching them play tonight, I think they fully expected to win that game, and that’s a good feeling when you have such a young basketball team to play on such a big stage in such a big game and to play with the poise that they played tonight.”
They never trailed, held the league’s best team from 3-point range to 4-for-25 shooting from beyond the arc and bolstered their NCAA Tournament credentials by beating Duke for the second straight time.
“One of the things during this time of the year ... is that if you lose, it’s final,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “Our team did not feel that. And now we have to understand that that’s the way it is. I mean, if you don’t do it, it’s done. I don’t care what your record was, or whatever. It’s over. It’s one and done.”
Mason Plumlee had 19 points to lead the second-seeded Blue Devils (27-5). They had the ball trailing by six points with about two minutes left after Seth Curry hit a rare 3-pointer and the Blue Devils got an even rarer defensive stop.
But Tyler Thornton missed 3-pointers on consecutive trips downcourt, and Wells and Seth Allen followed with two free throws apiece, with Allen’s stretching the lead to 77-67 with 1:44 left. Duke didn’t get closer than five the rest of the way.
“They seemed to always have an answer,” Plumlee said, “and that’s how they kept us from getting back in the game.”
Four Maryland players finished with 10 points apiece — Nick Faust, Jake Layman, Alex Len and Allen. The Terrapins outrebounded Duke 36-26 and made 23 of 25 free throws.
They also had the most dominant player on the floor in Wells, who surpassed his previous high of 25 points set in December against George Mason.
In the process, he delivered his team’s biggest statement during the run that put the Terps well on their way to the win. Immediately after the 7-foot-1-inch Len buried an unlikely 15-foot jumper, Wells gave the floor a hard slap — a jab at the Blue Devils’ we-mean-business trademark on defense.
“I was trying to energize my guys,” Wells said. “Whatever I have to do to get my guys pumped. No shots at Duke or anything like that. I just wanted to get my guys energized.”