INDIANAPOLIS - Seth Curry set a new Lucas Oil arena record with six made three-point field goals which translated into 29 points and that effort helped lead Duke to a berth in the Elite 8 after a 71-61 victory over Michigan State. Blue Devil Nation caught up to Curry in the Duke locker room to get his thoughts on the win.
The Duke Blue Devils were all business as they rolled out to a 14-0 lead over archrival North Carolina and never looked back, winning 69-53 to secure sole possession of second place in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Duke was led by Seth Curry in the first half, as the senior scored 20 points on a wide array of shots, and in the second half the Blue Devils rode the play of Mason Plumlee, who ended he game with a game-high 23 points and 14 rebounds.
“Seth was the best player on the court in the first half and Mason was the best player in the second,” said Coach Mike Krzyzewski during the post game press conference. He continued, “The second half was a man’s half. Mason was superb and has had an unbelievable year for us.”
The play of the two seniors was the difference, as was a Duke defense that held Reggie Bullock scoreless in the first half, held the Tar Heels to a single made three point shot in the entire game, and switched off well all night long. “Our defense was outstanding. They missed some open shots and we defended well, limiting second chance opportunities,” Krzyzewski said.
The Blue Devils simply took it to the Tar Heels and by doing so, they were able to take the home crowd out of the game. Every time North Carolina tried to make a run, a Duke player stepped up for a big bucket giving them a constant double-digit lead.
Krzyzewski also praised his team’s unselfishness, and it was apparent to all that the Blue Devils are on their way to finding that early season chemistry which made them so efficient in the early season against one of the nation’s toughest schedules.
A few weeks ago, Krzyzewski wondered out loud how good his team would be when Ryan Kelly returned. This game may have provided the answer. That return means that teams can no longer double down on Plumlee, and while Kelly did not have a stellar game against UNC compared to his two previous performances, his presence was felt in multiple ways.
In a game most thought would go down to the wire and indeed many felt it would not even be an upset if the Tar Heels were to win, Duke made a statement, and that statement is that they are still tops in this league going into the tournaments. And I’m not the only one who thinks so. While Duke finished second to Miami in the regular season standings, and that season included an unbalanced schedule, the Blue Devils’ win convinced ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi to consider them the tournament’s overall #1 seed at this point.
Duke will next play in the ACC Tournament in Greensboro on Friday at 7 PM against the winner of Thursday’s Maryland-Wake Forest game.
DURHAM -The Duke Blue Devils outscored the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 46-29 in the second half to take home a 73-57 win in Cameron Indoor Stadium on Thursday evening. The win comes on the heels of Duke’s first loss of the season last Saturday to N.C. State, and pushes the Blue Devils’ season record to 16-1 overall and 3-1 in the ACC.
Tonight’s game was not always pretty. All-American hopeful Mason Plumlee struggled with his shooting in the first half, going 2 of 12, but he hit 5 of 8 in the second half to finish with 16 points and a team-high 13 rebounds. That double-double keeps Plumlee atop the ACC in that category with 11 on the season. At one second half timeout, Coach Mike Krzyzewski met him at halfcourt with a huge hug after Plumlee’s play had finally turned the tide in the Blue Devils’ favor.
But it was the play of Seth Curry that put the Blue Devils over the top. The senior finished with a game-high 24 points, knocking down a career-high 6 of 7 three-point shots (the six were all in a row after missing his first), including one shotclock-beating three pointer from deep NBA range. Curry continues to battle through his shin injury. In his post-game press conference, Coach Krzyzewski stated that Curry would practice just one time before next week’s Miami game, due to the lingering pain from the shin.
Duke was also aided by the play of two freshmen tonight. Rasheed Sulaimon broke out of his offensive slump to score 15 points, and he also added 5 rebounds from the guard spot. Amile Jefferson pulled down a career-high 10 rebounds and scored 6 points, including a critical basket just before the first half ended to cut the Tech lead to one point.
After shooting just 27% in the first half, Duke righted the ship and finished he game at 40% from the field. They outscored the Yellow Jackets in the paint by a 32-24 margin. Duke also benefited greatly from 28 points off Yellow Jacket turnovers, and they outscored their opponent 12-4 on fast break points.
Coach Krzysewski said Kelly was week-to-week as opposed to day-to-day. Without him, the Blue Devils are a work in progress, almost like a new team. It is clear that they are once again finding their team chemistry and that they are trying combinations to make up for the loss of a senior leader who not only stuffed the stat sheet with measurables, but also brought intangibles, such as an understanding of spacing, to the table.
But the schedule does not wait. Next up: Duke will take on league leader Miami next Wednesday night in Coral Gables. Check out tonight’s videos from Mason Plumlee and Seth Curry below.