Thornton heroics help Duke defeat Kansas 68-61 to win Maui Invitational

There are so many postives for Duke Basketball tafter their latest win that it is hard to figure out where to begin.  Tyler Thornton played the game of his life nailing two three pointers , including one at the buzzer in front of the Duke bench and that helped the Blue Devils defeat a pesky Kansas team by  68-61 score.  As heroic as Thorntons exploits were, he had plenty of help.  Let's break it down -

Ryan Kelly earns MVP honors

Kelly was an iron man in Maui, playing 36 minutes and scoring 17 points in the victory over Kansas.  His overall play earned him the Most Valuable Player honor and he deserved the recognition.  Kelly was cool under pressure, nailing free throws with incredible accuracy and his blocked shots were most timely and let's not forget his 3 assists, one to Andre Dawkins for a key three pointer.

Mason Plumlee manned up big time

When Duke needed a rebound, Mason was there and his play earned him high praise from Coach Krzyzewski who said he was the most valuable player in tonights game.  Plumlee had abother double-double of 17 points and 12 rebounds and after missing his firstt two free throws, he hit  seven straight.  Mason is comiing into his own this season and he is the man in the middle for the Blue Devils.

Austin Rivers made the all tournament team

Rivers was saddled with foul trouble tonight, yet he still made the all tournament team after his career high effort against Michigan.  But the impressive thing to me was the fact Duke won without their start freshman on the court.  Rivers continues to grow into a complete basketball player and he will be fun to watch as the lights continue to go off as the season progresses.

The three ball was deadly for Duke and they defended it well

Duke held Tennessee to zero three pointers int he opener and Kansas went just 2 for 8.  Meanwhile, Duke rocked the rims for 11 treys in their win over Kansas.  The Blue Devils shot the ball well from the stripe in the tournament and that played a key role in them returning to Durham as champions.

Oh Tyler

Earlier in the eveninf I stated that Thornton does so many things that doesn't show up in the box score and then he went and got all hero on us.  Thornton thrilled Duke fans nationwide with two huge three pointers.  The first one he shot with the kind of confidence that he knew it was going in.  And the last one, was a wide legged shot right in front off the bench as time expired.  The social networking world for Duke fans went nuts.  Thornton came to compete and that is why he helped Duke win with the game on the line.

Props to the staff

I think it's clear that the Duke Men's Basketball staff has done one hecj of a job to date with this team.  They are pushing the right buttons early on and that means trouble for teams on their schedule.  You had to love the assistants getting off after Thornton drained that killer three.  You never saw Duke panic tonight, instead they fought through adversity to win and a major part of that is coaching.

By the numbers

Duke is now a most impressive 15-0 all time in the Maui Invitational and there are always good teams in the field, no matter the year.  Duke is also 7-2 all time against Kansas, one of the nations most storied programs.  The win was the 35th straight in November for the Blue Devils.

Link to - Official Box Score  More to come folks!  We should have some exclusive one on one videos from Hawaii.

Rivers career high 20 points helps Duke defeat #15 Michigan

It's not even Thanksgiving yet and the Duke Men's Basketball team is already 6-0 with wins over quality teams.  The Blue Devils added to their March resume by defeating #15 Michigan 82-75 and in the process advance to the championship game of the EA Sports Maui Invitational.

Austin Rivers scored the ball well with a career high 20 points.  The dandy freshman drew  Tim Hardaway Jr. for most of the night and he held him with help from his teammates to 0 in the first half.  Hardaway would warm up to score 19 points, all in the second half, but Duke was never really threatened after going out to a double digit plus lead.

Seth Curry added 17 points for Duke and continues his consistent, silky smooth play.  Ryan Kelly has now had back to back great games where he scored 17 points and went a stellar 9 of 10 from the free throw stripe.  Andre Dawkins was the other Blue Devil in double figures with 14 points and 4 three pointers.

The Blue Devils handled the Wolverines vaunted 1-3-1 defense with tight guard play.  That combined with 11 three pointers at a plus 50% clip and the Blue Devils remain undefeated on the season and they have yet to lose in the Maui Invitational.  The Blue Devils will face the winner of the UCLA-Kansas game which guarantees a match up against on the the all time best college basketball programs.

BDN's Terry Rains will be adding some video interviews shortly where he is on the scene in Hawaii, so stay tuned for that.

Blue Devils advance in Maui to face Michigan

The Duke Blue Devils defeated the Tennessee Volunteers 77-67 in their first game in the Maui Invitational pushing their season record to 5-0 on the oyung season.  The Blue Devils will face the Michigan Wolverines who defeated a talented Memphis squad at 7:00 tomorrow evening in a game televised on ESPN.

It took the Blue Devils a while to get untracked but late in the first half they put together a mini run to take a six point lead into the locker room.  They would eventually get out to a large lead in the second half and held on for an eventual ten point win.

One of the keys to the game for the Blue Devils was their perimimeter defense which did not allow the Vols a single three point shot.  Tennessee depended on the three point shot coming into the game.  On ther other side of the ledger Duke made seven three pointers and were led by freshman Austin Rivers who hit two consecutive treys on his way to a career high 18 points.

Seth Curry and Ryan Kelly scored 17 points each and Andre Dawkins tallied ten giving the Blue Devils four double figure scorers.  Mason Plumlee fell just shy of a double-double with 8 points to go with a team high 13 rebounds.

There will be little time for rest as Duke will now face a Michigan team that took them down to the wire in last seasons NCAA Tournament.  We'll have more on the match up in the morning and look for a couple of interviews coming your way soon as well.
Team Notes:
• Duke started 5-0 for the fifth consecutive
season and the 20th time under head coach Mike
• The Blue Devils improved to 13-0 all-time in Maui and
14-0 all-time in the Maui Invitational. Duke beat Belmont 77-76 in Cameron
Indoor Stadium on Nov. 11 of this season in a preliminary Maui Invitational
• Duke won its 10th consecutive game against a non-conference
opponent on a neutral court.
• Duke had four players score in double
figures for the fourth time this season.
• For the second straight game,
Duke used the starting lineup of Seth
Curry, Andre
Dawkins, Ryan
Kelly, Mason
Plumlee and Austin
Rivers. Curry, Dawkins, Rivers and Mason
Plumlee have started every game this season.
• Duke trailed 33-31 with
2:18 remaining in the first half but scored eight straight points to close out
the half and take a 39-33 lead into halftime. Austin
Rivers made back-to-back three-pointers during that span, and Seth
Curry added a two-point jumper.
• Duke also got the first two points
of the second half to extend that run to 10 consecutive points. Duke has scored
10 or more consecutive points four times this season.
• The Blue Devils
held Tennessee without a three-pointer. Tennessee shot 0-of-8 from the
three-point line.
• Holding onto a slim four-point lead at 59-55 with 8:16
remaining, Duke went on a 15-6 run to reclaim a double-digit lead. Duke went
5-for-6 from the field and 5-for-6 from the free throw line during that

Player Notes:

• Contributed two points, two rebounds, an assist, a
steal and his first career block.

• Started his 18th consecutive game and played over 30
minutes for the third straight outing.
• Scored in double figures for the
fifth straight game.
• Hit a three-pointer for the fifth straight game.

• Went 6-for-6 from the free throw line.
• Picked up a pair of
steals, giving him multiple steals for the third straight game.
• Led the
team with four assists

• Started his fifth consecutive game.
• Hit a
three-pointer for the 11th consecutive game.
• Scored in double figures

• Made his second straight start.
• Scored in
double figures for the fourth time this season.
• Went 5-of-9 from the
field, raising his field goal percentage to .576.

• Started his 26tth consecutive game.

Registered double-digit rebounds for the third game and the second straight
contest. He ranks among the top five in the ACC with 10.6 rebounds per
• Went 3-for-5 from the field, improving his field goal percentage
to a team-leading .639 (third highest in the ACC).
• With the score tied
at 45-45, pulled in four consecutive defensive rebounds to help Duke rebuild a
50-45 lead. Duke did not trail the rest of the game.

• Scored five points and added six rebounds off the
• Blocked a shot.

• Made his fifth straight start and played 31
• Scored a career-high 18 points and led the team.
• Scored
11 points in the first half while sinking two three-pointers.
• Both of
his first-half treys came in the final 2:18 during an 8-0 Duke

• The first player off Duke’s bench

Monday Musings – Duke goes to Maui, football takes on UNC, Cheerleader of the Week

Cheerleader of the Week

Welcome to the Thanksgiving week Monday Musings where BDN of course, hopes all of you have a great holiday.  Duke takes on Tennessee in just a few hours to open the loaded Maui Classic and Terry Rains is in place to bring us coverage.  This is also the last game of the football season where the Blue Devils travel to North Carolina.

Aloha!  Maui begins with Tennessee

Duke gets it underway on the islands starting at 5:30 this afternoon when Duke takes on what will be their easiest opponent in Maui Invitational in Tennessee.  The Vols come into the game 2-0 riding the play of Trae Golden but they will be hard pressed to keep Duke from facing the winner of Memphis and Michigan.  Duke will either face the methodical style of the Wolverines or the crazy athleticism of Memphis.  You can bet I will be tuned in to see who wins this clash of two styles and for the record, I think Memphis would be a very difficult matchup for Duke.  The Tigers are loaded with quickness and are athletic and have just the kind of team that could trouble Duke this season.  Of course, Michigan took Duke to the wire last season and have all but one key player back, so either way, should Duke get past the Vols, they will have one heckuva match up awaiting them.

Fans and coaches will learn more about the team

By the time the dust clears on the tournament, we'll all know a lot more about this seasons team which is both young and a work in progress.  No matter who Duke faces past the Vols, they will be one of the nations best teams and this will present a great early season challenge.  And for those of you that haven't looked ahead, the Blue Devils will take on  #2 Ohio State in Columbus after the invitational.  It has been a long time since the Blue Devils faced such a challenging schedule and with a young team, a loss is certainly on the horizon.  If Duke comes out of Maui undefeated it will be a great feat and one that will have them firmly set in the top 5 teams in the country.  What I will be watching is how this team responds to adversity and close games.  Can they close with a lead or will they wilt under the pressure of a game time possession.  That's what makes watching the games so much fun.

Stepping up

Who will step up for Duke next?  Coach Mike Krzyzewski has made it clear on more than one occasion that different players will step up for the Blue Devils in certain games.  Andre Dawkins did so in New York and Mason Plumlee in the last outing, so will it be Austin Rivers this time?   Who knows, but in reality Duke is looking for consistency and a couple of players to blossom into bonafide stars.  And for the record, Austin Rivers despite being a true freshman has been very consistent on the offensive end as has his backcourt mate, Seth Curry.

Recruiting never sleeps

BDN Recruiting Analyst Andrew Slater has been checking out Duke prospects Noah Vonleh and Nerlens Noel among others in holiday recruiting events and we'll be hearing a lot more about that later in the week.

One game can redeem a season

Duke Football has been improving, just not at the speed many had hoped for.  When you look at the success of Virginia and Wake Forest, two teams the Blue Devils were supposed to be right there with this season, it cannot help but make one wish that there were more than 3 wins on the ledger.  The Richmond loss still haunts as do other close contests and until Duke gets a win, frustration is just that, frustration for both the staff and the fan base.  One may look at the Boston College game as a break through win on the road this season, but they could cure many ills finding a way to finally beat their arch rival UNC.  A win on the road in Chapel Hill would erase a lot of the frustration and be a great starting point for next year when Duke returns pretty much everybody save a couple of defensive studs.  Duke opens as a 13 point underdog and it will not be an easy task in that the Tar Heels are tough on the fronts.  But if they could find a way to win, it would be a huge one and bring about some major belief to what has been a disappointing season.  Here is to hoping the Duke team believes it can win and plays with heart and a reckless abandon in the finale.

Be safe out there Blue Devil Nation and eat mo' turkey!