When the first poll of the season came out, the state of Kentucky saw their two biggest powerhouses, Louisville and the University of Kentucky, ranked in the top-five. What a wonderful season it was going to be for basketball fans in Kentucky! Well, Coach K and his fellow Blue Devils decided that they hate watching the state of Kentucky be happy and, eleven days after defeating the defending National Champion Kentucky Wildcats, finished off dismantling of the state of Kentucky, defeating the Louisville Cardinals 76-71 to win the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.
Despite the fact that Duke only trailed for less than two minutes, the game was a nail-biter and the outcome was perpetually in doubt. Even when the Blue Devils opened up a twelve-point lead at one point, you always had a feeling Louisville would make it close, which they did, tying the game up at 61-61 with four minutes left. This would be as close as they’d get the rest of the way, however, as Louisville began missing all their free throws and Duke began making all their free throws. Sure, it was tense all the way up until the clock hit zero, but you really got the feeling that Duke was going to finish it off around the 1:16 mark, when Quinn Cook began his tear. A Cook layup, a Cook jumper, and four Cook free throws later, Duke was celebrating another pre-season tournament title.
To the notes!:
-The biggest bright spot of the game was Tournament MVP Quinn Cook. The sophomore point guard came up huge for Duke in a point of the game where Louisville was doing everything they could to get back into the game. Scoring the Blue Devils’ final eight points and eleven of his fifteen total points in the final seven minutes, Cook established himself as a reliable weapon for Duke at the point guard position, something they’ve needed badly ever since the departure of Jon Scheyer. Cook still has a long ways to go and he still turned the ball over four times, but all Duke wants to see out of the guard is progress, and Cook showed a ton of it over the course of the tournament.
-Peyton Siva, Louisville’s star point guard, managed only four assists while committing six turnovers. Siva had a great game defensively and still scored 19 points, but the Blue Devils did a fairly decent job limiting one of the better point guards in the nation.
-Once again, the bench was fairly ineffective. Thornton had the best game with three points, three rebounds, three assists, and two steals, but the rest of the unit saw only a combined 14 minutes, with only four rebounds and a block to show for it. This wouldn’t be too impactful on the game, however, because…
-Four of the starters played a wonderful game and all five finished in double digits in scoring
|Ryan Kelly, F||31||4-9||0-1||6-8||1||6||4||1||2||1||5||14|
|Seth Curry, G||34||3-11||2-9||6-6||0||3||0||0||0||2||1||14|
|Mason Plumlee, F||36||6-10||0-0||4-5||3||7||0||1||1||3||2||16|
|Quinn Cook, G||34||4-8||1-2||6-6||0||4||6||1||1||4||4||15|
Look at all the stat-sheet stuffing! Cook was an offensive rebound away from having something in every category, and Mason Plumlee had another great game from the free throw line! I don’t know whether you believe Plumlee has made an actual turnaround at the free throw line or whether you believe it’s just been dumb luck so far, but you should really believe the former. Plumlee is shooting 80% on the season from the line on over 40 attempts, and you just don’t luck into that good of a percentage, not when you were previously a shooter who was hovering around 50% the year before.
-Mason Plumlee deciding to stay for his senior year and Austin Rivers deciding to leave early was the best thing that could have ever happened to this team. I’ll leave it at that.
-Seth Curry shot less than 30% from the field and had zero assists. I know Curry has been dynamic all season, but the senior needs to find other ways to be effective on the nights where his shot isn’t falling.
-Every game Duke struggles from the 3-point line will make me miss Andre Dawkins. Tonight, I missed Andre Dawkins.
-The Blue Devils now head back to Durham for a November 28 contest against #3 Ohio State, a team that handed Duke an embarrassing 85-63 loss in Columbus last season.