Duke grinds out a 67-58 win over VCU, advance to Battle in Atlantis title game

Lance King Images for BDN

Somewhere along the way for teams hoping to play deep into March, you have to prove you can win a grinder style game against a good team and the Duke Blue Devils did that today.

While it is certainly too early to say how they'll look come March, Duke has surely showed they are up to the task against a challenging early season schedule where they continue to have success. Duke beat a solid Virginia Commonwealth team 67-58 to advance to the championship game of the Battle for Atlantis.

The Blue Devils did so and have won games to date with much improved defensive play and that side of the ball held the Rams to 32% shooting from the floor and chased them off the three point stripe after half time adjustments.

But the key adjustment was getting Mason Plumlee involved more in the post and Krzyzewski seemingly tapped the right buttons for he came out a different player scoring two early inside baskets while rebounding better. Plumlee finished the game with another double-double with a team high 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Another reason Duke will head to the championship game has been the play of Quinn Cook who entered the starting lineup three games ago.

Cook combined with Rasheed Sulaimon to fend off the Rams defense which is appropriately named "Havoc," from constant pressure and traps. Cook scored 9 points but more importantly dished out 9 assists and got his teammates the ball in the right position against a tough defense.

The aforementioned Sulaimon also helped the Blue Devils with 7 rebounds from his guard position and those were nig on a night when Duke struggled a bit on the glass. Sulaimon added 12 points and the Blue Devils ended the game with four players in double figures.

One of those players was senior Seth Curry who 15 points and knocked down 9 of 10 free throws. In fact, the prowess Duke showed from the free throw line was a difference maker where they went 24 of 27 which translates to 88.9%, a coaches dream.

Duke also benefited from 5 blocked shots produced by Ryan Kelly and one of those came at a most key momentum that killed a VCU run. Kelly finished the game with 11 points and 4 rebounds.

Another key stat for Duke was their ability to protect the ball against pressure. Few teams will commit just 8 turnovers against VCU this season and Duke was able to weather the storm.

Duke also dished out 14 assists to the Rams 4 and closed the rebounding deficit to 6 with many of those coming down the stretch.

While this might not have been the prettiest of wins, it was a solid one for Duke who goes to 5-0 on the season.

Krzyzewski and Duke made good half time adjustments and implemented their will to get to the fre throw stripe and get Plumlee going inside. They played VCU style ball in the 1st half but Duke ball in the second and that flip was the difference.

The Blue Devils will need a lot of rest before they play either Missouri or Louisville, two deep and active teams tomorrow. Duke played just seven players in their win over the Rams and the starters got the bulk of the minutes.

Duke looks for a win on Senior Day against Miami

Conner Vernon will cap off a record-setting career in Durham on Saturday against Miami - BDN Photo

Miami at Duke
12:30 PM ET
Saturday, November 24
Durham, North Carolina

TV: ACC Network

Radio: Blue Devil IMG Sports Network

Duke: 6-5 (3-4 ACC), lost at Georgia Tech, 42-24

Miami: 6-5 (4-3 ACC), defeated USF, 40-9




PROBABLE: S Jordon Byas, S Anthony Young-Wiseman
QUESTIONABLE: S Brandon Braxton
OUT: CB Jared Boyd, LB Kelby Brown, TE Braxton Deaver
OUT FOR SEASON: CB Lee Butler, TE Jack Farrell, WR Blair Holliday, DE Allen Jackson, S Corbin McCarthy, S Taylor Sowell


OUT: OL Jermaine Johnson, WR Rashawn Scott
OUT FOR SEASON: WR Davon Johnson, WR Robert Lockhart Jr., RB Eduardo Clements, OL Ben Jones, WR Malcolm Lewis, LS Sean McNally, LB Ramon Buchanan


It's Senior Day in Durham and the Blue Devils will have to put forth an inspired performance to pull off the upset against the Hurricanes. The key to a Duke win will be in establishing the running game against a Miami defense that ranks last in the conference, allowing 224 yards per game. Miami will look to feature star freshman Duke Johnson in their offense, and the Blue Devils will need to showcase their own young star in Jela Duncan. In addition to struggling against the run, the Miami defense ranks near the bottom of the ACC in sacks and tackles for loss, meaning that the Blue Devil offensive line needs to establish their dominance early and often in this game. Duke will need to match the Hurricanes' speed in special teams to prevent big plays. Stephen Morris has had success moving the ball through the air with Philip Dorsett and Rashawn Scott his favorite targets on the year, and tackling the explosive Johnson will be a challenge.


The difference in recent years between these two teams has been Duke's inability to contain the Hurricanes' athletes. This year could be a similar result if Stephen Morris gets going through the air, and if Duke Johnson breaks a few runs on the ground against a Blue Devil defense that has allowed more than its fair share of explosive plays (think Stanford, Virginia Tech, Florida State, Clemson). Miami will look to break open the game in special teams, where Johnson already has 2 kick return touchdowns on the season. Their defense will have to contain hometown star Conner Vernon and the speedy Jamison Crowder, and hope that the Duke offensive line struggles as they have at times this year. For Miami to finish their season on a winning note, though, they have to win with explosive plays.


With another self-imposed postseason ban looming, the Hurricanes will have to find their own motivation on Saturday. Jela Duncan will set a new career high in his brief career against the struggling Miami defense, and the Blue Devils' other sensational freshmen, Ross Martin and Will Monday, will contain the Hurricanes' return game. The Blue Devils are going bowling and will look to close the careers of Sean Renfree, Desmond Scott, and Conner Vernon on a winning note at home. It's been a terrific four years for this group of seniors, and they'll leave Wallace Wade Stadium as winners. Duke 38, Miami 34

Blue Devils shoot lights out to defeat Minnesota

The Duke Blue Devils pushed their season record to 4-0 with an 89-72 win over Minnesota in their opening game in the Battle for Atlantis Tournament. Seth Curry led the way for Duke by scoring 25 points and Mason Plumlee added 20 points and 17 rebounds as the Blue Devils advanced to play Virginia Commonwealth tomorrow evening at 7:00 on the NBC Sports Channel.

Blue Devils shoot lights out

Duke shot a solid 54.5% from the field but a whopping 80% from beyond the three point arc, where they went 8 for 10. Duke also made a very acceptable 21 of 26 from the free throw stripe. If Duke continues to shoot like this, they'll be tough to beat.

Starters played like starters

Duke got all but two of its points from its starters.  Three bench players saw significant action, but only Amile Jefferson scored late in the contest. Alex Murphy played the final mop-up minute. The Blue Devils will surely need more production from the bench to advance to the championship game in the stacked Battle for Atlantis field.

Quinn Cook starts and plays well

Sophomore PG Quinn Cook looked really comfortable on the court today, and his play was key to the Blue Devils win. Cook seems to play better when he starts and today he tossed in a career-high 17 points to go with 4 assists and 3 rebounds.  But it was his defense, including 5 steals, which most impressed. His off-balance three-pointer at the end of the first half gave Duke solid momentum as well.

Mason Plumlee dominated the paint

Huge numbers once again from the increasingly efficient Mason Plumlee, who was robbed of ACC Player of the Week honors in the opinions of many. Plumlee went 8 for 10 from the free throw stripe and finished with 20 points and a whopping 17 rebounds. Mason has established himself as a clear ACC POY candidate early on, and he is earning early consideration for national honors.

The recap

Duke started slow but as the game went on they looked poised against what Tubby Smith has termed his best team at Minnesota. The Blue Devils offense was amazingly proficient, but they also continued to show signs of playing much better defense than a season ago. There is no doubt that Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski is treating the tournament in the Bahamas as a business trip, and several media members noticed, as they mentioned his focus and intensity this week. Duke will play two more teams on Paradise Island, and they'll both play much different styles than the Gophers.  No matter the opponent in this loaded Battle for Atlantis field, the experience gained will help big time when the Blue Devils begin ACC play.  Duke played very well today and Coach Krzyzewski is surely pleased to see that his three seniors continue to lead.  There is no word as to the status of Seth Curry's nagging leg injury or whether he is likely to recover in time to play significant minutes tomorrow against VCU.

Brian Moore, CJ France, Tony Foster talk Duke Football vs Miami

Firstly, Happy Thanksgiving to the Blue Devil Nation!  Here are several Duke Football player videos going into this weekends matchup with Miami in Wallace Wade Stadium.  A reminder, there is a Black Friday Sale at GoDuke.com where you can purchase tickets for ten bucks each.  Support the Blue Devils on Senior Day.

Brian Moore

C.J. France

Tony Foster

Duke Coach David Cutcliffe has contract extended at Duke

BDN Photo

DURHAM, N.C. – Duke University Vice President and Director of Athletics Kevin White announced on Wednesday that the school and head football coach David Cutcliffe have agreed to a contract extension through June 30, 2019.

“Without question, we have already made great discernible progress since David’s arrival,” White stated. “However, as we assess our future – based on prospect evaluations, ongoing recruitment activity and player development – we are extremely excited, if not euphoric! To be sure, ‘Coach Cut’ represents just a great fit at Duke. David and the staff have done an exemplary job of leading the program, while subscribing to the highest intuitional ideals, both academically and athletically.”

Hired on December 15, 2007, Cutcliffe has directed the Blue Devils to six victories this season as Duke has achieved bowl eligibility for the first time since the 1994 season. This year’s accomplishments include a 5-1 record at home, the 33-30 victory over rival North Carolina that included a game-winning 14-play, 87-yard drive ending with Sean Renfree’s five-yard touchdown pass to Jamison Crowder with 13 seconds left in the contest, and Conner Vernon becoming the ACC’s all-time leader in both pass receptions and receiving yardage.

“This business is about people, and Karen and I could not be happier with the people we’ve associated ourselves with here at Duke,” Cutcliffe said. “President Brodhead and Kevin White are the best of the best, and we are grateful for their support as we continue to build Duke’s football program. We’ve accomplished some of the goals we laid out five years ago, but are nowhere close to where we want to be.”

In four-plus seasons in Durham, the Birmingham, Ala., native has guided Duke to 21 wins – 11 more than the program’s total in the previous eight years.

In 2011, Duke landed a conference-record 19 selections to the Academic All-ACC team and, during the previous season, established a school record for home attendance with 201,248 total spectators visiting Wallace Wade Stadium. Four Blue Devils – linebacker Michael Tauiliili (2008), defensive tackle Vince Oghobaase (2009), placekicker Will Snyderwine (2010) and safety Matt Daniels (2011) – have earned All-America honors during the Cutcliffe Era.

Cutcliffe is a 1976 graduate of the University of Alabama. After coaching at his alma mater, Banks High School, he served 19 seasons (1982-98; 2006-07) on the staff at Tennessee and six years (1999-04) as the head coach at Ole Miss. Cutcliffe has participated in 22 bowl games, and owns a 4-1 record in bowl contests as a head coach.