Maryland was supposed to challenge the Blue Devils for supremacy in the conference this season, but the pecking order was clearly established Sunday: It's Duke and then everyone else.
Elton Brand had 19 points and 13 rebounds as No. 2 Duke ripped apart the fourth-ranked Terrapins, pulling away in the second half to a surprisingly easy 82-64 rout on the road.
The addition of stellar guard Steve Francis to an already solid frontcourt had the Terrapins thinking they could make a run at their first outright ACC title since 1980. That goal is still viable, but for now Duke appears to be well in command.
``I thought our kids played great, especially in the second half,'' Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. ``We hardly made a mistake until the last two minutes. Our execution was superb.''
In other games involving ranked teams Sunday, it was: No. 8 Indiana 62, Illinois 53 and No. 21 Iowa 52, Northwestern 48. Two games were postponed because of the weather in the Midwest, Marquette at No. 3 Cincinnati and No. 16 Minnesota at No. 11 Purdue.
After an exchange of baskets made it 39-39 with 18:19 left, Brand hit a layup and a short jumper to start a run of 13 straight points that included two free throws and a 3-pointer by William Avery.
Maryland, meanwhile, missed nine of its first 10 shots and committed eight turnovers in the opening eight minutes. It was 58-42 before Terence Morris made a layup - only the Terrapins' second basket of the half - with 11:39 to go.
By that time, Duke was all but assured its 12th win in 14 games at Maryland. After the margin reached 20 points with 3:36 left, fans who paid up to $500 a ticket began heading toward the exits.
``For us to lose by 18, that really hurts,'' said Francis, who failed to make a basket after halftime and finished 3-for-14 from the field. ``But it's not the end of the world.''
Except for the timing, Duke's recipe for success was virtually identical to the formula that worked so well last year at Maryland, when the Blue Devils made their first four 3-pointers and turned an early 14-point lead into a rout.
This time, Duke waited until the start of the second half to stage the game-turning blitz.
``We were in pretty good shape after the first half,'' Maryland center Obinna Ekezie said. ``Coming out in the second half we were a totally different team. On offense, we couldn't get anything done.''
Morris scored 16 points and Francis had 11. The Terrapins, whose only previous loss this season came at Kentucky, fell to 7-1 at home.
``A lot of people thought we could win this game,'' Maryland coach Gary Williams said. ``In big games in the past we were the underdog. There's a different type of pressure there.''
Shane Battier had 15 points for the Blue Devils despite picking up his fourth foul with 18:57 remaining. Avery also scored 15, but it was Duke's play on the other side of the court that most pleased Krzyzewski.
``Our defense was outstanding in the second half,'' he said. ``I thought we played like five guys as one. We didn't give them any transition baskets and that took them out of their game.''
The Blue Devils made it look so easy that it appeared as if they were playing against one of their overmatched out-of-conference rivals instead of the No. 4 team in the nation.
``We scored, we stopped them. We scored, we stopped them,'' Duke guard Trajan Langdon said. ``We just built some momentum. We were getting good looks and we were converting. From that point, we rolled.''