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Bigs Put it Down for Duke Against Presbyterian 96-55

By November 13, 2011No Comments

As expected, Duke blew out Presbyterian 96 to 55.  The interesting facts about this game are less about the score, and yes, even less about Coach K tying the record of his mentor Bobby Knight at 902 career wins.  To me the most interesting fact is that Duke played on consecutive days, with no real signs of wear and tear.  No visible mental or physical fatigue.  Not that this was NC State or Florida State Duke was playing, but the conditions were indeed ripe for a let down.  Duke had just come off an emotional victory with real game pressure and a game that Duke had to pull out, and to come back on the next night and play, and play well is an amazing feat.  Duke looked sharp, especially from the forward spot.  Miles and Mason Plumlee, and even Ryan Kelly and Josh Hairston came to play.  Coach K opened the bench up a tad allowing more minutes from Josh Hairston and Michael Gbinije and one would have to assume if Alex Murphy was 100% he may have gotten some time on the floor as well.

Ryan Kelly led Duke in scoring with 17 points, shooting a hot 5 of 8 and hitting all 6 of his free throw attempts.  Kelly did this in somewhat quiet fashion and while only playing 19 minutes. Next in line was freshmen Austin Rivers, whose confidence grows day by day, and he already had a lot.  He is clearly the Dukie bringing the most swag to the table, the difference I think in what I thought of Rivers and what I see in Rivers is that he is a team player all the way.  Unselfish when he needs to be but when he smells blood in the water is not afraid to attack, even when it’s clear he’s going to take a hit.  Rivers was able to put in 15 points, and like Kelly he was 5-8 shooting, and went 4-6 from the line with one 3 pointer.  He also had 6 assists for the team lead and from what I can tell, no turnovers, which is what you want to see from the freshmen.  Rivers also brought it on the defensive end, leading the team with 3 steals.  Seth Curry, Quinn Cook and Tyler Thornton made up Duke’s 3-headed point guard monster, each brings different pieces to the equation.  Curry, while not having his best game in terms of point production, was steady and shot well.  He and Cook both had 10 points in the game and between them 5 assists to 2 turnovers.  Cook’s game is growing, you may not notice him on the court doing anything spectacular, but he is methodical and smart.  You can see flashes in his game, enough to know that by the middle of the season he will be hard to get off of the court.  Tyler Thornton is not the offense seeker the other two guards are, but on the defensive end he shines.  He pressures the ballhandlers, making it harder for teams to get into their sets and he staggers the other team’s rhythm.  He hits a high enough percentage of his shots to make defenses know that he is capable of hitting them.

The Plumlees, both Miles and Mason showed up big in this game, albeit against inferior competition.  What they are showing so far is the willingness to take the initiative, to not be content with just kicking the ball out to a shooter.  Coach K has stressed that the only way this team will be successful is if it gets scoring out of the forward position.  Both Miles and Mason scored 13 points while displaying a want for the ball and a bevy of offensive moves.  Obviously it remains to be seen whether this furor continues against stauncher competition, but the hope is there that the light has come on and they will continue to be hungry for the ball.  The other side of the Plumlee effect is the rebounding.  Pulling in 19 between them, it is clear that it’s been stressed and then stressed again in practice.  It looked as if every time the ball came off the rim, one Plumlee of another had a hand on it, usually 2.  If there was one criticism I could make about the game of Miles and Mason, it’s the free-throw shooting: they were 2-11 in this game, and leaving 9 points on the floor against a top tier team is the difference between winning and losing.  The margin for error will not be as great as it was against Presbyterian.


Next up is Michigan State in the State Farm Champions Classic on Tuesday, Nov 15 in Madison Square Garden at 7:00 p.m.