Quick Summary: Duke uses a 30-0 run to run over FGCU, 88-67. Mason Plumlee drops 28 points in the victory.
Back when I was a kid, I had a friend down the street that would come over and play NBA Live with me almost every day. The games were typically competitive, but one day he come over with a bad attitude and, after falling behind by ten points in the third quarter, threw a fit and gave up. Every possession after declaring defeat, he would throw up a shot with whoever touched the ball across half-court first, threw wildly dangerous passes, and didn’t even attempt to play defense. As a result, I went on a 25-0 run and ended up demoralizing him by forty or so points by the end of it. I remember it was 25-0 run because I gave him crap about it for the next couple weeks like the annoyingly competitive child I was. Whenever we loaded up the game, I hounded him about it. Whenever I would go on a small run, I’d tell him, “Betcha I get a 26-point run this time!” Basically, I was a jerk. Still, though, I recognized how ridiculously insane it was to go on such a run, even if the opponent wasn’t trying. In the nine years after, I would completely forget about these events. Then, tonight, I was reminded of them watching the Duke Blue Devils completely shred the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles to the tune of an absurd 30-0 run.
I was eager to watch this game, as FGCU was coming off an easy victory over the Miami Hurricanes and had the right personnel to challenge the Blue Devils for the full forty minutes. It was because of this belief that there wasn’t any sense of surprise when they came right out of the gate and punched Duke in the mouth, leading for a majority of the first half before the Blue Devils went on their incredible run. Really, the Eagles out-performed Duke for most of the second-half as well, utilizing a barrage of three pointers and a ninety-percent free-throw percentage to edge the Blue Devils 37-36 over the final twenty minutes.
Yes, FGCU wasn’t bad, but Duke still won 88-67 and still went on a 30-0 run. Think about that amount for a second: 30-0. It takes a mass amount of skill, hustle, and defensive prowess to go 15+ possessions without surrendering a single point. Sure, it also takes quite a bit of luck and a few screw-ups from the opposition, but the stat speaks volumes for how well this Duke team can play when they are firing on all cylinders. Young guards Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon have proven they can play swallowing defense, senior guard Seth Curry’s defensive ability is vastly underrated, and Senior Forwards Ryan Kelly and Mason Plumlee can always be depended on in the post. Duke will never come close to going on a run like that again this season, as some of the better teams in college basketball history probably never even came close, but it was a very exciting and fun thing to watch.
Now, some notes:
-Mason Plumlee set a career-high in points with 28. The most exciting thing about Plumlee’s performance was his 10-11 mark from the free throw line, raising his free-throw percentage on the year to 77%. This is great news for the Blue Devils, as one strategy for stopping Plumlee last season was to simply send him to the free throw line, where he shot around 50% for the season. Another great game from the field (9-11) also raised his shooting percentage into the high seventies, which is quite ridiculous and is a number I don’t expect to hold up for much longer. It is, however, a lot of fun to just look at while perusing statistics.
-Before the game, I tweeted a prediction that Quinn Cook would separate himself from Tyler Thornton in this game. We won’t know if I was right until their next game or two, but it certainly looked like Cook got the job done. The sophomore point guard had his ups and downs at the position, recording nine assists to go along with an ugly five turnovers. Despite the turnovers, it really appears Cook is beginning to emerge as deserving of the starting position, which I’m fairly certain we all assumed he would be eventually. It isn’t that I have anything against Tyler Thornton, but he just lacks the playmaking ability that really makes the offense click the way it needs to. Cook is explosive and fun. This offense is explosive and fun when it is working. The Duke offense needs Quinn Cook if they are to work. It is that simple.
-Alex Murphy once again failed to see substantial playing time for the third straight game, and I’m really starting to doubt whether we’ll see much from him at all this season. I wasn’t expecting him to immediately become the next Kyle Singler or anything, but I was holding on to the hope that he’d be a solid contributor to this team in the 2012-13 season. So far, no luck.
-Hey, Duke is 3-0! And they beat Kentucky last week! Remember that? That was awesome.
-Duke’s next contest will be on Thursday, November 22nd, against the Minnesota Golden Gophers at 3:30 ET. Minnesota is also undefeated. Bring it, you shiny, Golden Gophers.