“Yeah, well we also just needed him. The really good teams that we have here, and we have had a lot of them. There are players on those teams that will fight whether they are fresh, medium or completely exhausted, and if you have a few of them or a team of them, then you might win a National Championship. We had five of them in 2010. Tyler is like that as long as Tyler is on the court. He just gives it to you. I really thought out of all of our players. He won’t show up stat wise, but just attitude wise, toughness wise, just what he was saying in huddles, on the court understanding game situations and encouraging his teammates. It was like a ‘Wojo’ type of performance. You don’t recognize the true value of player by his stats but by what he has done. I could talk a long time about that kid. Those things are what I think I value the most in coaching when a kid has that type of will and attitude. It is just beautiful.” - Mike Krzyzewski on Tyler Thornton. BDN brings you a one on one with Tyler -
[5 AP / 4 Coaches] Duke (24-4, 11-2) vs. Virginia Tech (15-13, 4-9)
Saturday, February 25, 2012 • 12:00 p.m. • ACC Network
The Opening Tip
• Duke (24-4, 11-2) faces Virginia Tech in an ACC home contest on Saturday, Feb. 25 at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Tipoff is set for 12:00 p.m.
• Tim Brandt (play-by-play) and Cory Alexander (analyst) will call the game for the ACC Network.
• Duke is ranked No. 5 in the AP Poll and No. 4 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll. The Blue Devils are 68-24 when ranked No. 5 in the AP Poll. Virginia Tech is not ranked in either poll.
• Duke is the only team in the NCAA to rank in the top 5 in RPI, Strength of Schedule as well as the AP and ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls. Duke has three wins against top 10 teams in the RPI.
• The Blue Devils are 12-2 at home this season with both losses coming against ACC teams. Duke has not lost more than two games on Coach K Court since the 2006-07 season.
• With Thursday’s win at Florida State, Duke has assumed first place in the ACC standings.
Duke-Virginia Tech Series
• Duke and Virginia Tech have met 46 times heading into Saturday’s game with the first meeting between the two schools coming on Feb. 16, 1912.
• The Blue Devils lead the all-time series 38-8, including a 9-3 ledger since the Hokies joined the ACC.
• Duke won the previous meeting this season 75-60 in Blacksburg, Va., thanks to an 18-point effort from freshman Austin Rivers. Duke has won two in a row in the series and six of the last seven meetings.
• The Blue Devils are 15-1 against the Hokies in Cameron Indoor Stadium.
• Mike Krzyzewski is 9-3 at Duke against the Hokies, including a 4-1 record in Cameron Indoor Stadium.
• Six of Duke’s last seven wins over Virginia Tech have been by at least 12 points. Duke’s last three losses to Virginia Tech have been by no more than four points.
l Duke has been ranked in the top 10 of the AP Poll for 90 straight weeks, the third-longest streak in NCAA history.
l The Blue Devils are 13-3 on the year in games decided by 10 points or less. The Blue Devils have six wins in ACC play by less than 10 points. Duke’s 13 wins by 10 points or less are tied for the sixth most in school history.
l Duke averages 25.5 points per game off the bench with 11 games with 30 or more bench points. The Blue Devils have had a double-digit scorer off the bench in 21 of 28 games this season.
l Only four Duke teams have won their first seven ACC road games. The Blue Devils are 7-0 in ACC road games, joining the 2005-06, 1999-2000 and 1998-99 teams as the only groups to win their first seven ACC road contests. Duke has not gone undefeated in ACC road games since 1999-2000.
l Duke has hit at least eight three-pointers in seven straight games. During that streak, the Blue Devils are shooting 37.8 percent from three-point range while averaging 30.4 ppg. from three-pointers.
l Andre Dawkins leads the ACC with a .422 three-point shooting percentage. Dawkins is 65-of-154 from beyond the arc this season and ranks third in made three-pointers.
l Duke has a +15.7 scoring margin in Cameron Indoor Stadium and a +6.6 rebounding margin at home. The Blue Devils score an average of 82.9 points per game on Coach K Court while holding opponents to 67.2 points per game. Duke has outrebounded nine of 14 opponents at home.
l Duke’s perimeter defense has improved significantly over the last 13 games. Duke has held those 13 opponents to a .277 shooting percentage from beyond the arc and allowed just three of those teams to shoot better than .350 from three-point range.
l Austin Rivers leads Duke in scoring at 15.2 points per game and has reached double figures in 24 contests. He is attempting to become just the third Duke freshman to lead the team in scoring.
l Miles Plumlee is averaging 9.0 points and 11.5 rebounds over his last four games. He has two double-figure rebounding games and two double-figure scoring games during that span, including a Coach K-era record 22 boards against Maryland.
l Seth Curry has made 16 consecutive free throws and 35 of his last 38 free throw attempts. He ranks second in the ACC with an .884 free throw percentage, which would rank as the seventh highest single-season mark in school history.
l Duke has had at least four double-figure scorers in 16 games this season. The Blue Devils are 15-1 when at least four players score 10 points.
l Seven Duke players have started at least 10 games this season, tying the school record. Duke last had seven players with at least 10 starts in 2008-09.
Resilient Blue Devils show poise in victory
Miles Plumlee ended the game on the bench with 5 fouls. Mason Plumlee was reduced to a shadow of himself as he was saddled with 4 fouls, 3 early on but the Blue Devils overcame foul trouble. Had somebody told you Mason Plumlee would score a single point would you have thought there would be a Duke win? The resilient Blue Devils never allowed Florida State to get too confident and the frustration played a factor as the game went on. Duke showed great poise throughout the game despite a most hostile crowd and pretty much took them out of the equation during large stretches of the game. And when the crowd did get into it as Florida State closed the margin late, the Blue Devils never folded on a night when they played 40 minutes of good basketball. And that's what it took to beat a talented and explosive Florida State team.
Time to recognize this Duke team
The Blue Devils have secured victories over the likes of Kansas, North Carolina. Michigan, Michigan State and now Florida State on the road where they are now 7-0. It's time to give them their due at 24-4 overall with three regular season games to go. If Duke takes care of business in their next two games against Virginia Tech and Wake Forest, they'll at worst play for the ACC regular season title. This team just finds a way of getting it done. The Blue Devils have remained in the top ten all season long and that has been the case for an amazing and soon to be 92 straight weeks streak under Kryzewski.
Dre all day!
When Andre Dawkins brings it and is on his shot, look out! Dawkins scored 18 1st half points and finished as the Blue Devils leading scorer with 22. This was the 4th time Dawkins scored 20 plus points this season and this one came when Duke had to win to remain in the ACC regular season title hunt. Dawkins also grabbed 5 key rebounds and dished one dime to go with a steal. Dawkins came up huge when Duke needed him and that was a huge reason for tonight's win. Dawkins made three-pointers on back-to-back possessions twice in the first half. Back-to-back treys by Dawkins stretched a 7 point lead to a 13-point lead in a span of 26 seconds. Dawkins leads Duke with 89 three-pointers on the season and leads the ACC with a .422 three-point percentage.
Austin wanted the rock!
You have to love the fact that freshman, Austin Rivers, wanted the ball in his hands in key situations and so did the staff, his teammates and fans. Rivers scored 20 points to go with 4 assists and 4 rebounds in one of his better efforts of the season. Rivers was there to knock down four daggers, otherwise known as the three pointer and each one was a exclamation point. But I liked his defense in this game, especially his late steal. Rivers will be a unanimous choice for ACC Rookie of the Year and he could make a run for some first team votes if he doesn't already have a few.
Speaking of the three ball ...
Duke drilled home 16 of 37 three point shots which translates into 39 points. In comparison, the Seminoles scored 12 points beyond the stripe, a 27 point differential. Seth Curry struggled for much of the game but Krzyzewski stuck with him and his late game play and three were huge for Duke. And Ryan Kelly hit what might have been the biggest of all the threes where the Blue Devils maintained much needed momentum.
Miles Plumlee comes up big
On a night when Mason Plumlee scored a single point, Duke still won, thanks to his brother Miles Plumlee who scored 10 points and 8 rebounds which led the team. Miles earned the praise of Krzyzewski who said his play set a standard for the rest of the season. Considering the foul trouble Duke had in the post, Plumlee showed the ability to succeed without being too aggressive. The senior has been playing some really good basketball of late and just in the nick of time for the Devils.
Another solid effort from Kelly
Ryan Kelly had his second 4 point play of the season when he was fouled on a made three pointer in the first half and then made the ensuing free throw. Kelly was in double figures for the 17th time this season, the third most on the team. Kelly knocked down a huge three-point shot with 4:30 remaining in the game which gave Duke’s 6 point lead as the 'Noles made a run. Kelly took another charge and leads the Blue Devils in that category. Kelly hit all five free throws. Kelly is shooting 80.8 percent from the free throw line, 41.2 percent from three-point range and 45.3 percent from the floor.
Who made this schedule? The Blue Devils will head to Durham shortly and be back on the Duke campus in the wee hours of the morning. Then they will have a short day and night before tipping off at noon against Virginia Tech. Duke will be tired and in need of a lift that only the ....
... Cameron Crazies can provide
The Blue Devils are having a fabulous season and they are growing as a team right before our eyes. And with just two home games left and coming off a huge road win over Florida State, the Blue Devils will need their sixth man to turn out in droves and show their appreciation. So, come on Crazies! Do your thing.
Facts and numbers of interest
Duke improved to 31-8 against Florida State in a series that began in 1955. Duke had lost the previous two meetings, including the 76-73 buzzer-beating loss to the Seminoles on Jan. 21 in Cameron Indoor Stadium.Duke won its seventh straight ACC road game. During the Blue Devils’ 58-year tenure in the ACC, they have started 7-0 in ACC road games just four times. The last time Duke started 7-0 in league road games was in 2005-06. Duke finished a perfect 8-0 in ACC road games in 1998-99 and 1999-2000. The Seminoles had allowed no more than 11 three-pointers in a game all season until Duke hit 13 tonight. Duke improved to 5-1 this season against ranked teams. The Blue Devils have wins over North Carolina, Kansas, Michigan, Florida State and Virginia. Duke’s only ranked loss came on the road against No. 2 Ohio State. Duke is holding opponents to a .277 shooting percentage from three-point range.
There is simply no other way to describe the Duke at Florida State game other than to say it's a big one! The ramifications of a win or loss will be far reaching, be it a tie at the top of the standings with North Carolina or third place. And then there is seeding for the fast approaching ACC Tournament in Atlanta and NCAA seeding implications per said outcome. Yes indeed, this is a terrific match up and one of those pins and needles games if you will that makes every possession and every play seem critical. That said, Blue Devil fans need to gather their collective mojo and channel it to the team.
That team of course has now won 5 straight ACC games since the upset loss to Miami in Cameron, including two instant classic games against local rivals North Carolina and North Carolina State. In the pre game interviews (see them on BDN) star freshman Austin Rivers, said Duke was playing great basketball and they are, but to put into perspective how hot Florida State is, well, they're 10- 1 in their last 11 games. That means something has to give this evening.
Duke is none too happy about losing to the Seminoles in Cameron but to focus on revenge is not always the magic potion needed for victory. The Blue Devils will be playing in a most hostile environment and keeping calm and cool will be a must. Weathering an early storm would be beneficial to the Duke efforts for Florida State is likely to try an intimidate the Blue Devils from the outset with their depth and athleticism.
The Seminoles are a mature and physical team, one which was a game away from the Elite 8 a season ago and lost but one significant player. After a slow start to the season, they asserted themselves and destroyed North Carolina 90-57 in the same venue the Blue Devils will play them in tonight. Close attention will be payed to Michael Snaer who hit a shot at the buzzer and is the conferences top three point shooter. In fact the Seminoles have the top three point field goal percentage in league play.
Another player Duke will watch closely is Bernard Hopkins, a versatile inside presence that is perhaps the leagues most overlooked player when talking All ACC. And yes, this games outcome will even effect votes for the All ACC where the ballots will soon be out. I know my votes can be swayed in tonights' game. But with Florida State, you cannot guard just a few players for they come at you in droves.
The Blue Devils will face the leagues top defense which is holding opponents to .375 from the field and while some perceive the Noles to struggle on offense they average the 5th most points in the league. That means, Duke will have to be very efficient on the offensive end while trying to remain even or so in the battle of the boards.
This will be one of the biggest games in FSU history in that they have a chance to win the ACC outright since they first joined the league. But this is also a big game for a youthful Blue Devils team, one which has reached deep of late and in the process found it's heart. This affair has instant classic written all over it going in but we'll have to wait and see if that comes to fruition.
In my opinion, slowing the Seminole guards and making sure there are limited second chance opportunities will be the key to winning. I also feel this game could come down to who hits their free throws and remains out of foul trouble. Seth Curry and Austin Rivers have been playing their best collective ball of the season of late and that play needs to continue.
The Blue Devils must also prepare for the physical play Florida State will likely play where they get their moneys worth on every bump or foul committed. Another good idea would be to take advantage when their defense over extends with some backdoor cuts. Anyhow, I think it best I leave the strategy in the capable hands of Coach Mike Krzyzweski who is 28-7 all time vs Florida State.
It's been rare that Duke loses three straight to anybody in the league under Krzyzewski, but with a loss that would be the case. But the Duke coach has worked an unusual roster to a 23-4 record. An interesting note is that the Blue Devils 8 losses to Florida State in the series have been by a total of 3.0 points per game which points to a close game this evening win or lose, but then again, remember the blowout of the Tar Heels.
Florida State is quite simply one of the hottest teams in the nation and they've been steadily moving up in the polls. This is a team looking to prove itself even more on the national scene and they're coming off a win over N.C. State in Raleigh where they crushed them in their own backyard after they played Duke to the wire.
So at the end of the evening in the Donald L. Tucker Center, one team will be tied with North Carolina and one team falls to third place and will likely be out of the race. Oddly, North Carolina fans should pull for Duke in that the Noles would win the tie breaker over them for the regular season title would they win out. But something tells me that their fan base might have a hard time doing that and will depend on the Noles to lose to Miami or Virginia on the road. Like I said, this is a huge game in many ways.
One more thing to be on the look out for is how much this game takes out of the Blue Devils win or lose in that they have a ridiculous turn around where they play Virginia Tech at noon on Saturday. And that leaves so little time to prepare and more importantly get some rest. That means we may see some bodies play tonight, but then again, maybe not and Krzyzewski will use his depth against the Hokies.
But these Blue Devils have showed no quit and I in no way expect to see that tonight. I see a very hard fought game on the horizon and I also feel the resilient Dukies will find a way to win but it will be close. The pick here is Duke 75-71