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.
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.