The Duke Blue Devils put forward a fabulous first half effort, and rode it all the way to a 98-85 victory over N.C. State on Thursday evening to push their season record to 20-2 overall and 7-2 in the ACC. The Blue Devils went 10 for 17 from the three point stripe for the game, and that shooting helped them take a 58-37 lead into the half. But the Pack responded with a great second half effort, some lights out shooting of their own (including 3 of 5 from behind the arc), and that allowed them to cut the lead to 8 in the final few minutes.
Mason looked like the ACC Player of the Year
With Ryan Kelly still out, Mason Plumlee has had to handle the middle pretty much by himself for Duke, and tonight he responded to the challenge of going up against C.J. Leslie and Richard Howell. Playing all but 29 seconds of the game, Plumlee scored 30 points to go with his 9 rebounds and had a key block down the stretch against Leslie. That block seemed to frustrate Leslie, who fouled out in short order after the play. Plumlee has had two 30 point games in his last three, and his complete game was the main ingredient in the Blue Devils win against a talented N.C. State team. "I think he is playing as well as anybody in the country. His moves inside are really beautiful in that he is playing through contact," said Coach Mike Krzyzewski.
Curry helped Duke jump out to a big lead
Seth Curry scored 26 points and was his usual deadly self from the free throw stripe, going 10 of 12. He also defended well, helping to hold Rodney Purvis to 7 points -- almost all of them late. Purvis' performance led the Crazies to chant "Nervous," and the freshman guard seemed to play that way most of the evening. Curry has now scored 20 or more points in three straight games for the Blue Devils, and he matched his career high with ten made free throws. Coach Krzyzewski once again lauded Curry in that he is not a regular participant in practice due to his nagging leg injury.
Quinn Cook ran the point
Quinn Cook added 21 points to go with 4 assists and 4 rebounds, and he hit four three pointers for the second consecutive game. Cook had a single turnover tonight and has had three or fewer turnovers in his last 14 outings.
Murphy gets his first dunk
Alex Murphy threw down his first dunk in a Duke uniform, and it was a memorable one which replayed on the Cameron Indoor Stadium scoreboard numerous times, much to the fans' delight.
A bit of an odd game
N.C. State outscored Duke 50-30 in the paint, 11-4 off turnovers, 10-7 on fast break points and held a 12-6 advantage off the bench. The Blue Devils did win the battle of the boards by a 33-31 margin. Duke won because they were efficient, but more than anything because they were determined. There were 43 total fouls called in the game, and Duke was an impressive 32 of 41 from the free throw stripe. That's a lot of free throws to take, but that's what happens when you're aggressive going to the basket, and the Blue Devils were.
Duke came out like gangbusters and ran out to a big lead as Cameron went nuts. But as often happens with an early lead like that against a good team, the opponent makes a run, and the Blue Devils had to sweat it just a bit late, before closing it out. But despite a spirited effort and comeback by the Pack, the contest was never really in doubt.
Later this year when the media members cast their votes for All ACC it will be hard for me not to vote Richard Howell on the team. No suprise that he was lauded by Coach K in the post game press conference. It was a good win for the Blue Devils, as they are continuing to adjust and improve without Ryan Kelly. Speaking of Kelly, still no set timetable on his return, per Coach K.