Coming off a loss at Georgia Tech, everyone had their eye on how Duke would come out in the first half of this game, and it was awful, for 20 minutes Dukes defense was abysmal. Blown assignments, help defense out of position, and getting beat off the dribble led to Duke being ahead in this game by 3 at halftime. Also contributing to the poor first half performance was horrid shooting from long range. Duke made 1 three point shot in this game out of 12 tries. A very un-Duke like stat.
The second half was a completely different story, and I imagine the halftime talk was centered around defense because the Devils came out and put the game away quickly with a 16 to 2 run capitalizing on defensive pressure, turnovers and fast break opportunities. It was one of the best 2nd half performances by Duke this year.
To make up for the lack of shooting touch, Duke added a 4th scoring option in this game, starting Miles Plumlee is starting to pay dividends. The elder Plumlee put in 12 points which offset the normally sure-shot Jon Scheyer who had a pedestrian (for him) 12 points on 4 of 12 shooting. Citing the lessons learned in the Gtech loss coach K commented, “Last year we wouldn’t have won a game like that,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “We had to hit 3s.”
Nolan Smith stepped up to the play and tied a career high with 24 points, doing damage off of fast breaks, off the dribble, and medium range jumpers. The only way BC could stop Nolan was to foul him.
4 of 5 of the Duke starters scored in double figures with the only exception being Lance Thomas who hangs his hat on being a defensive stopper for the Devils, with that Duke only allowed one double figure scored in this game.
It should also be noted that Duke did a much better job in this game of distributing minutes and utilizing the bench with Brian Zoubek and Andre Dawkins getting 16 and 17 minutes respectively. Zoubek contributed with a double figure rebounding effort and 6 points.