Thursday, December 20, 2012

Game Recap: Cornell 47, Duke 88

Below, recaps from Wednesday night...






Box Score

DURHAM, N.C. – The Big Red had a tall task on Wednesday night, facing the No. 1 Duke Blue Devils in their home court.

Though Cornell hung tight for most of the first half, Duke used a 21-0 run in the middle of the contest to pull away and eventually claimed an 88-47 victory at Cameron Indoor Arena.

The Big Red (4-7), playing the No. 1 team in the country for the fourth time in school history, was unable to keep pace in the second half as Duke (10-0) remained undefeated by outscoring Cornell 47-17 in the last 20 minutes. The Big Red remains winless against top-ranked foes and 0-5 all-time against Duke.

Shonn Miller was Cornell's leader in points and rebounds for the third consecutive night, getting 12 points and adding six rebounds. Miles Asafo-Adjei added eight points and three assists, while Johnathan Gray also had three assists.

“Cornell didn't waver from the way they play, and the way they play will end up being very successful for them in the Ivy League,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “They're more athletic, they're trying to get more athletic … and they pushed the ball on us. I didn't think we were ready defensively, and they were good.”

Coming off a 66-55 loss at Vanderbilt that saw the team hit just five of 28 attempted three-pointers, the Big Red shot very well in the first half and ended the period with a shooting percentage of 54.2.

The Big Red was clearly not intimidated by the hostile Cameron Indoor crowd in the early going as Miller rocked the rim on consecutive possessions with dunks. The second – an alley oop – was created by a beauty of a pass by Asafo-Adjei. At the first media timeout, Miller had six points, Gray had four and Cornell was ahead 10-8.

Duke picked up the pace after that, taking a 17-12 lead close to the second timeout. Devin Cherry made a free throw to cut the lead to 17-13, and then Duke accidentally knocked in the rebound of the missed second free throw to make it a 17-15 game.

The Big Red stayed tight with the Blue Devils for most of the half, keeping the Duke advantage under double digits until a layup with nine seconds left in the period put Duke ahead 41-30. That was the halftime margin, with Miller leading the way for Cornell with 10 points. Miller was 5 of 7 from the field in the half, while Gray was a perfect 2 for 2.


“Our defense in the first half was pretty good and we got some rebounds," Cornell coach Bill Courtney said. "They only had one offensive rebound at the half. When we get rebounds we are pretty good in transition and I think that helped us. Once they are able to get their defense back set, it is very difficult to score against them.”

The Big Red was hurt greatly by 15 turnovers in the first 20 minutes that resulted directly in 20 Blue Devils points. Duke's Mason Plumlee, a 6-foot-10 senior, was initially held at bay. But at halftime he was 5 of 5 from the field and had 10 points as one of three Blue Devils in double figures.

Once the second half began, Duke began to pull away. The Blue Devils went on a 12-0 run in the first four minutes of the half and extended that run all the way to 17 consecutive points in the half before Cornell scored again. What was a 37-30 game late in the first half became 58-30 before the Big Red put in a basketball – an Errick Peck jumper from the left side – with 13:30 remaining in the game.

Plumlee finshed the contest shooting 8 for 8 from the field and added nine rebounds. Three Duke Players had at least 16 points, and Duke ended the game with 35 points off 26 Cornell turnovers.

Fifteen players on the Big Red roster saw playing time against the Blue Devils including four players who did not see time at Vanderbilt on Monday: Dave LaMore, Holt Harmon, Peter McMillan and Ned Tomic.

The Big Red will continue its five-game road trip at Boston University on Saturday with tip-off set for 1 p.m.



DURHAM, N.C. — Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski had nice words for the Cornell men’s basketball team following its visit to Cameron Indoor Stadium on Wednesday evening.

“Cornell didn’t waver from the way they play, and the way they play will end up being very successful for them in the Ivy League because they are more athletic,” said Krzyzewski, a co-recipient of the USA Basketball National Coach of the Year Award. “They are trying to get more athletic, and they are. They pushed the ball on us ... I didn’t think we were ready defensively and they were good. They were really good.”

Unfortunately for the Big Red, the final score was less generous. Senior Seth Curry scored 20 points, classmate Mason Plumlee added 18 and the No. 1 Blue Devils reeled off 23 consecutive points in the second half in an 88-47 rout of Cornell on Wednesday night.

Playing as a top-ranked team for the 210th time under Krzyzewski — but the first since February 2011 — Duke (10-0) posted two season highs, shooting 56.7 percent and forcing 26 turnovers, while holding the Red scoreless for an eight-minute stretch in the second half.

Cornell sophomore forward Shonn Miller, the reigning Ivy League Rookie of the Year, scored 14 points and grabbed six rebounds to lead Cornell (4-7), who were within six points with four minutes left in the first half and down 41-30 at halftime. But Cornell missed its first 10 shots of the second half and shot 22.6 percent over the final 20 minutes in losing for the third time in four games and dropping to 0-4 all-time against No. 1 teams.

“Our defense in the first half was pretty good and we got some rebounds,” Cornell coach Bill Courtney said. “They only had one offensive rebound at the half. When we get rebounds we are pretty good in transition and I think that helped us. Once they are able to get their defense back set, it is very difficult to score against them.”

The game was tied at 19 midway through the first half on a layup by Big Red freshman guard Nolan Cressler and, with five minutes until halftime, Duke’s lead was 28-26 after a free throw from senior Johnathan Gray.

The Blue Devils would end the half on a 13-4 spurt before turning the second half into an exhibition, outscoring Cornell 47-17 to claim their 99th consecutive nonconference victory at famed Cameron Indoor Stadium.

“They are really good,” Courtney said. “I thought our team played well in the first half. Eventually their length, size and quickness really affected us. They forced turnovers, because they are so long and so well-disciplined on defense. On offense, their ability to make shots is unbelievable and that is what they do.”

Cornell was coming off a 66-55 loss at Vanderbilt on Monday marred by poor shooting — especially from behind the arc, where the Big Red connected on 5-of-28 attempts. The Red shot 54.2 percent (13-for-24) in Wednesday’s first half, before a cold second half brought the percentage down to 36.4 for the game.

The Big Red hit 1 of 11 3-pointers at Duke, but did hold a 35-30 rebounding edge. Cressler and senior point guard Miles Asafo-Adjei both finished with six points, while Gray and sophomore guard Devin Cherry added five apiece.

Freshman Rasheed Sulaimon had 16 points and sophomore Quinn Cook had a career-high 12 assists for the Blue Devils, who had not played since Dec. 8.

Cornell plays its third of five consecutive road games since coming off a 16-day exam break at Boston University at 1 p.m. on Saturday.




DURHAM, N.C. — Seth Curry scored 20 points, Mason Plumlee added 18 and No. 1 Duke reeled off 23 straight points in an 88-47 rout of Cornell on Wednesday night.

Freshman Rasheed Sulaimon had 16 points and Quinn Cook had a career-high 12 assists while showing up all over the box score for the Blue Devils (10-0).

Playing as a top-ranked team for the 210th time under Mike Krzyzewski — but the first since February 2011 — they posted two key season highs, shooting 56.7 percent and forcing 26 turnovers, while holding the Big Red scoreless for an 8-minute stretch when the game got away from them.

Shonn Miller had 14 points to lead Cornell (4-7). The Big Red missed their first 10 shots of the second half and shot 22.6 percent over the final 20 minutes to lose their third in four games and falling to 0-4 all-time against No. 1 teams.

Cornell hung around for about 15 minutes before the Blue Devils pulled away at the end of the first half and turned the second half into one 20-minute-long run by outscoring the Big Red 47-17 to claim their 99th straight nonconference victory at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

They can extend that streak to triple digits Thursday night when Elon visits.

Once Duke — playing its first game since Dec. 8 and just its third this month — finally found its rhythm, several players put up some big numbers in the final box.

Curry was 7 of 10 with three 3-pointers in his second straight 20-point game and fourth of the season. Plumlee finished one rebound shy of his fourth straight double-double and was perfect from the field, hitting all eight of his shots at Duke’s basket and one inadvertent and inconsequential one into the Big Red’s.

And Cook, who has taken ownership of the starting point guard job during the past month, did all the little things for the Blue Devils. He finished the first half one assist shy of his previous career high of nine.

His pinpoint passing set up Duke’s first three baskets out of the halftime break, when the Blue Devils built upon their lead by scoring the first 19 points of the half. Sulaimon pushed the lead into the 20s for the first time when his free throw with 16:51 left made it 50-30, and Josh Hairston made it a 30-point game with a three-point play that put Duke up 60-30 with 13:51 to go.

That lopsided margin made it easy to forget that the Blue Devils had trouble finding a rhythm until the end of a disjointed first half in which they shot nearly 59 percent, forced 15 turnovers — yet only led 41-30 after a 13-4 run that closed the half. Plumlee capped it with a layup with about 9 seconds left that gave Duke its first double-figure lead — and it only swelled from there.






DURHAM, N.C. -- Quinn Cook took care of passing the ball. Nearly everyone else at Duke handled the scoring, and that had the Blue Devils looking like a No. 1 team again.

Seth Curry scored 20 points and Cook had a career-high 12 assists in top-ranked Duke's 88-47 rout of Cornell on Wednesday night.

Mason Plumlee added 18 points, freshman Rasheed Sulaimon had 16 points and Cook showed up all over the box score for the Blue Devils (10-0), who were playing as a No. 1 team for the 210th time under Mike Krzyzewski but the first since February 2011.

After a slow start, they certainly wound up looking the part by posting two key season highs -- shooting 56.7 percent and forcing 26 turnovers -- while reeling off 23 straight points and holding the Big Red scoreless for an 8-minute stretch when the game got away from them.

"I don't think that it's hit any of us that we're No. 1," Cook said. "We don't go out there like, 'We're the No. 1 team, everything's going to happen like this.' That should be motivation -- we're the No. 1 team, we want to keep the spot."

Shonn Miller had 14 points to lead Cornell (4-7). The Big Red missed their first 10 shots of the second half and shot 22.6 percent over the final 20 minutes to lose their third in four games and fall to 0-4 all-time against No. 1 teams.

Cornell hung around for about 15 minutes before the Blue Devils pulled away at the end of the first half and turned the second half into one 20-minute-long run by outscoring the Big Red 47-17 to claim their 99th straight nonconference victory at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

"Eventually, their length, size and quickness really affected us," Cornell coach Bill Courtney said. "They forced turnovers because they are so long and so well-disciplined on defense. ... Their ability to make shots is unbelievable and that is what they do."

The Blue Devils can extend that streak to triple digits Thursday night when Elon visits.

Once Duke -- playing its first game since Dec. 8 and just its third this month -- finally found its rhythm, several players put up some big numbers in the final box.

"I'm not going to blame the layoff," Krzyzewski said. "I didn't think we were ready defensively, and they were good. They were really good at pushing the ball up, and I don't think we had the emotion needed to play defense. I think the last 8 minutes of the first half, we started getting it, ended the half really well and the second half, we were terrific."

Curry was 7 of 10 with three 3-pointers in his second straight 20-point game and fourth of the season. Plumlee finished one rebound shy of his fourth straight double-double and was perfect from the field, hitting all eight of his shots at Duke's basket and one inadvertent and inconsequential one into the Big Red's.

And Cook, who has taken ownership of the starting point guard job during the past month, did all the little things for the Blue Devils. He finished the first half one assist shy of his previous career high of nine, and he and Tyler Thornton combined to finish with 17 assists and one turnover.

"It gets guys going, gets guys shots in positions they want the ball, and that benefits Mason a lot -- he's able to just catch and finish," Curry said. "When he's doing that, we're at our best."

Cook's pinpoint passing set up Duke's first three baskets out of the halftime break, when the Blue Devils built upon their lead by scoring the first 19 points of the half. Sulaimon pushed the lead into the 20s for the first time when his free throw with 16:51 left made it 50-30, and Josh Hairstonmade it a 30-point game with a three-point play that put Duke up 60-30 with 13:51 to go.

That lopsided margin made it easy to forget that the Blue Devils had trouble getting into a groove until the end of a disjointed first half in which they shot nearly 59 percent, forced 15 turnovers -- yet only led 41-30 after a 13-4 run that closed the half. Plumlee capped it with a layup with about 9 seconds left that gave Duke its first double-figure lead -- and it only swelled from there.


Eleven days is a long time to go without a game and it showed early in Duke’s return to the court against Cornell.

“It was pretty obvious we weren’t who we have been the whole season early in the first half,” Seth Curry said. “We got our rhythm back in the second half and played with a lot more energy.”

Once the rust wore off, the rout was on. Duke closed the first half on a roll and upped the ante after intermission, bludgeoning Cornell with a 32-4 run that spanned both halves. The final was 88-47 and it could have been worse.

Cornell is a mid-level Ivy League team, lacking in size and athleticism. But early on they did the things that we expect from Ivies-run their offense, block out, hit open shots.

And Duke let them. “They pushed the ball on us,” Mike Krzyzewski said. “I didn’t think we were ready defensively. I didn’t think we had the emotion we needed to play defense.”

Duke actually trailed at 12-8 after scoring the game’s first four points. Under-sized but athletic Cornell power forward Shon Miller had a couple of emphatic dunks and Cornell scored in transition several times.

Rasheed Sulaimon jump-started a 7-0 surge and Duke never again trailed. It was last close at 32-28, with 3:44 left in the half.
During this period, fans were treated-if that’s the word-to a play that can be described as a Cameron crazy. Trailing 17-13, Cornell’s Devin Cherry missed a foul shot. Mason Plumlee went for the unchallenged rebound and somehow the ball ended up in the Cornell basket; the points were given to the closest Cornell player, Eitan Chemerinski, who never actually touched the ball.

“That was not one of my brighter moments,” Plumlee laughed, after the game. “You wonder if it still counts as two points for the other team. It’s never happened to me before and I hope it never does again.”

Plumlee’s so good this season, he’s scoring for both teams.

Duke forced five Cornell turnovers in the final 3:16 of the first half and used that intensity to get some vital separation.

It was 41-30 at intermission.

Curry said Duke talked about defense at halftime. Mainly about protecting their basket.

It showed. Cornell could barely run their offense out of the locker room, while Duke scored with stunning efficiency. It took the visitors an agonizing 6:29 to get on the board in the second half.

Meanwhile, Sulaimon, Plumlee, then Plumlee again scored inside practically out of the locker room. Curry hit from outside, Sulaimon hit from the line. Cornell coach Bill Courtney called a timeout 2:36 into the half and another at the 11:17 mark.

By that point, the lead had ballooned to 73-42.

Duke emptied the bench down the stretch, getting some valuable time for some youngsters, while resting the starters for the next night’s game against Elon. No Blue Devil played more than 26 minutes.

Speaking of those youngsters, Alex Murphy had one of the more curious games imaginable. He didn’t get off the bench in the first half and didn’t start the second half. But he went in with 16:16 remaining and played the rest of the game.

Call it an extended audition. “I was a little bit tired at the end but it was good to get those minutes,” he said. “I think I do a lot of things that can help this team, whatever I can do to help the team win.”

Murphy ended with seven points, three rebounds, a steal and a block, showing the toughness and versatility projected for him over the summer. Amile Jefferson used his length and quickness to score eight points, with three rebounds in 16 minutes.

But the starters are the guys who will decide more competitive games. Curry scored 20 points in 23 minutes, while shooting only 10 times from the field and three times from the line.

If that sounds efficient, try Mason Plumlee, who made all eight of his field-goal attempts, scoring 18 points, with a game-high nine rebounds. Rasheed Sulaimon added 16 points and three steals.

Six of Plumlee’s field goals were assisted by Quinn Cook, who had a career-high 12 assists. Cook had only one turnover. Tyler Thornton had five assists and no turnovers.

Even casual observers can see that Cook to Plumlee is developing into something special. “Everything was right at the rim,” Plumlee says. “Quinn is just playing great. He’s setting me up very nice, making my job easy. He’s so in control. He’s so fun to play with.”

Notes.

Marshall Plumlee played two effective minutes early but didn’t return. Mike Krzyzewski said that Plumlee had sprained an ankle and that it was too early to tell if this was related to the earlier injury or judge the severity of the injury.

His absence did give Todd Zafirovski a chance to log four minutes. The popular walk-on made the best of the opportunity, with three points and a rebound.

Give Bill Courtney credit. We’ve seen numerous visiting coaches keep their starters in against the Duke bench in order to make a lop-sided score more respectable. But Cornell used a whopping 15 players.

Duke forced a season-high 26 turnovers. Florida Gulf Coast committed 25.

Mason Plumlee is now shooting 66-103 from the field. That’s just under 65 percent.




Typically when a player only attempts four shots, he doesn’t have much of an impact on a game.

Typically when you haven’t played a game in nearly two weeks and only practice once a week, it’s difficult to get into a rhythm.

Typically when you shoot just 33% from the three-point line, you don’t blow out opponents.

But this Duke (10-0) team isn’t typical. And neither was their 88-47 win over Cornell (4-7) Wednesday night.

Quinn Cook recorded a career-high 12 assists on a night where he scored just six points on four field goal attempts. He did a beautiful job of not only finding his open teammates but also creating scoring opportunities for other Blue Devils through penetrating. He also turned the ball over just once and tallied four rebounds and two steals in 26 minutes of play.

Seth Curry was simply lights out from all over the court between his 7-for-10 shooting from the field and 3-for-6 shooting from three-point land. He posted a game-high 20 points in just 23 minutes and oh by the way only practices about once a week. It’s incredible for a player to get into a rhythm so easily and so quickly without practicing much, but it’s unfortunately what Curry will likely have to do for the rest of the season with his injury not getting any better.

One thing that separates this Duke team from previously unsuccessful squads is their ability to win — and in this case win big — without shooting well from beyond the arc. The mantra ‘live by the three, die by the three’ has haunted the Blue Devils in recent years but it hasn’t been as much of a hindrance this year. If you look atDuke’s Nov. 24 76-71 win over Louisville (10-1), they shot just 25% from three. Although that’s just one example and the Blue Devils have shot 40% from beyond the arc on the season, it seems as though Duke lives less by that mantra than they did in previous years.

One big reason for their decreased reliance on the three is because of the emergence of National Player of the Year front runner, Mason Plumlee. He narrowly missed out on his fourth straight double-double, after recording 18 points and a team-high nine rebounds in 26 minutes and a perfect eight-for-eight shooting from the floor. Plumlee also recorded a team-high three blocks on a night that included seven blocks and 11 steals from Duke’s defense. The Blue Devils forced 25 turnovers and scored 35 points off turnovers.

Freshman star Rasheed Sulaimon posted a team-high three steals in addition to 16 points on 6-for-10 shooting. He was very disruptive on defense on a night where four Duke players tallied multiple steals and he finished well at the rim. Sulaimon missed just one shot inside the arc and knocked down all four free throws he attempted. Although one significant headline coming into Wednesday night was Marshall Plumlee playing in his first career game, the youngest Plumlee recorded just two minutes, one block and one rebound.

Duke will again be in action tomorrow night at 7pm on ESPNU. They take on Elon (6-4) as the Blue Devils attempt to win their 100th straight non-conference home game.


There’s a reason why Duke is the top-ranked team in the land.

With an explosive second-half effort and lockdown defense, No. 1 Duke (10-0) put Cornell (4-7) away quickly. The Blue Devils did it in balanced fashion too with Mason Plumlee, Seth Curry and ‘Sheed all in double figures, to go along with Quinn Cook’s 12 assists at the point guard position.

Here’s your postgame breakdown:

Marshall Plumlee’s debut: In his first action as a Duke Blue Devil, Plumlee only played sparingly in the first half. The redshirt freshman center grabbed one rebounded and recorded one blocked shot. Plumlee, however, did not play in the second half due to a foot injury.
A hot start and strong defensive outing: Duke did not get off to a particularly hot start in the first half, but as the game wore on the Blue Devils overwhelmed Cornell. Duke’s disruptive ball pressure was problematic for the Big Red all night long. The Blue Devils created 25 turnovers, and they did not allow Cornell to score until the 13:33 mark in the second half.
More burn for the bench: By the 17:00 mark in the second half, the game was out of hand, which enabled Duke to give its reserves some valuable minutes. Amile Jefferson and Alex Murphy played well off the bench. The two combined for 15 points and seven rebounds.

Three key plays:
16:39, second half: The blowout was on, but Rasheed Sulaimon put the exclamation point on it for Duke. The freshman guard jumped a passing lane, stole the ball and finished with an emphatic two-handed dunk.
10:14, second half: It was an encouraging night for redshirt freshman Alex Murphy. The 6-foot-8 wing is improving with time. He registered quality minutes tonight, which started with him nailing a trey from the perimeter in the second half.
2:44, second half: Senior forward Todd Zafirovski doesn’t get many opportunities to get on the floor. The former walk-on made the most of his minutes in a blowout win for Duke, which was highlighted by his hook shot off the bank in the closing minutes of the game.

Three key stats:
25 TO’s for Cornell: Duke’s defensive pressure was stellar all night. The Blue Devil backcourt made life difficult for the Big Red guards by playing tight defense. Turning Cornell over allowed for Duke to get out on the break and convert on numerous easy baskets to put the game away quickly in the first few minutes of the second half.
17 second-half points for Cornell: After giving up some easy buckets in the first half, Duke’s defense was suffocating pretty much the entire second half. Cornell also shot a meager 1-of-11 from 3-point range.
12 assists for Quinn Cook: Cook played brilliantly, conducting the offense efficiently and finding open teammates. The sophomore lead guard has really come into his own this season, and he is one of the biggest reason why Duke is playing so selflessly and has an unbeaten record.

And the Duke game ball goes to … Seth Curry. The veteran shooting guard was perfect from downtown at 3-for-3 on the night. His utilization of ball and head fakes allowed him to get open looks, and he made Cornell pay. The senior looked very comfortable on the floor tonight, and he shot the ball very well, going 7-of-10 from the field to finish with a game-high 20 points.

And the Cornell game ball goes to … Shonn Miller. As the only player in double figures, Miller was virtually the only player that could generate consistent offense for the big red.


Full Game Replay: Duke 88, Cornell 47
Condensed Game: Duke 88, Cornell 47
Full Radio Broadcast: Duke 88, Cornell 47
Cornell Postgame Press Conference: Duke 88, Cornell 47
Coach K Postgame Press Conference: Duke 88, Cornell 47
Todd Zafirovski Postgame Interview: Duke 88, Cornell 47
Amile Jefferson Postgame Interview: Duke 88, Cornell 47
Seth Curry Postgame Interview: Duke 88, Cornell 47
Highlights: Duke 88, Cornell 47
Photos: Duke 88, Cornell 47
Final Book: Duke 88, Cornell 47
Duke Season Stats
Box Score: Duke 88, Cornell 47
Box Score: Duke 88, Cornell 47
Quotes: Duke 88, Cornell 47
Notes: Duke 88, Cornell 47


DURHAM, N.C. -- Quinn Cook took care of passing the ball. Nearly everyone else at Duke handled the scoring, and that had the Blue Devils looking like a No. 1 team again.

Seth Curry scored 20 points and Cook had a career-high 12 assists in top-ranked Duke's 88-47 rout of Cornell on Wednesday night.

Mason Plumlee added 18 points, freshman Rasheed Sulaimonhad 16 points and Cook showed up all over the box score for the Blue Devils (10-0), who were playing as a No. 1 team for the 210th time under Mike Krzyzewski but the first since February 2011.

After a slow start, they certainly wound up looking the part by posting two key season highs -- shooting 56.7 percent and forcing 26 turnovers -- while reeling off 23 straight points and holding the Big Red scoreless for an 8-minute stretch when the game got away from them.

"I don't think that it's hit any of us that we're No. 1," Cook said. "We don't go out there like, 'We're the No. 1 team, everything's going to happen like this.' That should be motivation -- we're the No. 1 team, we want to keep the spot."

Shonn Miller had 14 points to lead Cornell (4-7). The Big Red missed their first 10 shots of the second half and shot 22.6 percent over the final 20 minutes to lose their third in four games and fall to 0-4 all-time against No. 1 teams.

Cornell hung around for about 15 minutes before the Blue Devils pulled away at the end of the first half and turned the second half into one 20-minute-long run by outscoring the Big Red 47-17 to claim their 99th straight nonconference victory at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

"Eventually, their length, size and quickness really affected us," Cornell coach Bill Courtney said. "They forced turnovers because they are so long and so well-disciplined on defense. ... Their ability to make shots is unbelievable and that is what they do."

The Blue Devils can extend that streak to triple digits Thursday night when Elon visits.

Once Duke -- playing its first game since Dec. 8 and just its third this month -- finally found its rhythm, several players put up some big numbers in the final box.

"I'm not going to blame the layoff," Krzyzewski said. "I didn't think we were ready defensively, and they were good. They were really good at pushing the ball up, and I don't think we had the emotion needed to play defense. I think the last 8 minutes of the first half, we started getting it, ended the half really well and the second half, we were terrific."

Curry was 7 of 10 with three 3-pointers in his second straight 20-point game and fourth of the season. Plumlee finished one rebound shy of his fourth straight double-double and was perfect from the field, hitting all eight of his shots at Duke's basket and one inadvertent and inconsequential one into the Big Red's.

And Cook, who has taken ownership of the starting point guard job during the past month, did all the little things for the Blue Devils. He finished the first half one assist shy of his previous career high of nine, and he and Tyler Thorntoncombined to finish with 17 assists and one turnover.

"It gets guys going, gets guys shots in positions they want the ball, and that benefits Mason a lot -- he's able to just catch and finish," Curry said. "When he's doing that, we're at our best."

Cook's pinpoint passing set up Duke's first three baskets out of the halftime break, when the Blue Devils built upon their lead by scoring the first 19 points of the half. Sulaimon pushed the lead into the 20s for the first time when his free throw with 16:51 left made it 50-30, and Josh Hairston made it a 30-point game with a three-point play that put Duke up 60-30 with 13:51 to go.

That lopsided margin made it easy to forget that the Blue Devils had trouble getting into a groove until the end of a disjointed first half in which they shot nearly 59 percent, forced 15 turnovers -- yet only led 41-30 after a 13-4 run that closed the half. Plumlee capped it with a layup with about 9 seconds left that gave Duke its first double-figure lead -- and it only swelled from there.


Duke 88, Cornell 47
Team Notes:

• Duke started 10-0 for the 18th time in school history and the 14th time under head coach Mike Krzyzewski. The Blue Devils have started 10-0 in two of the past three seasons. 
• Duke improved to 208-31 while playing as the No. 1 team in the country. The Blue Devils have been ranked No. 1 for 123 weeks overall, including 105 weeks under Coach K. It was Coach K’s 184th win when coaching Duke as the No. 1 team in the nation (184-26, .876).
• Duke played its 186th straight game as a top-10 team. The Blue Devils are 156-30 during that span.
• The win was Duke’s 104th since the start of the 2009-10 season. Only Kentucky, Kansas and Ohio State have more wins during that span.
• Duke scored 41 points in the first half and 47 in the second half, giving the Blue Devils at least 40 points in seven consecutive halves. Duke has scored at least 40 points in 12 of 20 halves this season.
• Duke scored 23 consecutive points over a span of 7:13, beginning with 1:32 remaining in the first half. The 23-point run was Duke’s second longest of the season, trailing only the school-record 30-point run against Florida Gulf Coast on Nov. 18. The 23 consecutive points tied for the fourth-longest run in school history. 
• Duke went on a 17-0 run to start the second half. Cornell did not score a bucket until the 13:28 mark in the half after missing their first 10 shots in the period. 
• Duke’s point guard duo of Quinn Cook and Tyler Thornton combined for 17 assists and just one turnover. 
• Duke held Cornell to just eight assists, the Blue Devils’ sixth game this season holding an opponent to less than 10 assists. Cornell did not have a single assist in the second half. Duke is allowing just 8.6 assists per game, which ranks tied for seventh in the country. 
• Cornell entered the game averaging 14.6 turnovers per game. Duke forced 15 turnovers in the first half and 26 for the game, a season high for the Big Red.
• Three Blue Devils scored in double figures, led by senior Seth Curry with 20 points. Duke has had at least three double-figure scorers in every game this season. Duke snapped a streak of eight consecutive games with at least four double-figure scorers. 
• Duke’s starting five combined to score 67 of the team’s 88 points, or 76.1 percent of the team total. On the season, Duke starters combine to average 69.9 points per game, or 86.5 percent of Duke’s total scoring. Duke’s starters have scored at least 75.0 percent of the team’s total points in nine of 10 games this season.
• Duke did not get a point from its bench until 4:02 remaining in the first half when Amile Jefferson hit a pair of free throws. The bench went on to contribute 21 points, including 17 in the second half. Duke’s bench is averaging 21.0 points per game over the last three games, compared to 6.6 points per game in seven games prior.
• Duke recorded 23 assists on 34 made field goals, good for 67.7 percent. Duke has recorded assists on at least 60 percent of its field goals in seven games this season and ranks third in the ACC with 16.7 assists per game. 
• The Blue Devils scored on 52.6 percent of their possessions and averaged 1.16 points per possession. 
• Seniors Seth Curry and Mason Plumlee scored in double figures together for the eighth time this season, combining for 38 points. Those two combine to average 35.7 points per game and have combined for at least 30 points in eight games. 

Player Notes: 


• Earned his eighth straight start and finished with a career-high 12 assists to just one turnover. Since Cook took over Duke’s starting point guard duties eight games ago, Duke is averaging 82.4 points per game compared to 74.5 points per game in the two contests prior.
• Cook’s 12 assists led directly to 25 points. 
• The 12 assists were the most by a Duke player since Greg Paulus had 15 against Valparaiso on Dec. 18, 2005. It tied for the 20th most assists in a game in school history. It was Cook’s first career double-figure assist game.


• Scored 20 points for his fourth 20-point game of the season and third straight. It was Curry’s eighth double-figure scoring game of the year. Curry is averaging 21.0 points per game over his last three contests.
• Hit three three-pointers in the contest, giving him at least three treys in three consecutive games. Curry is shooting 52.3 percent (11-of-21) from three-point range during that span. He is shooting 41.2 percent (21-of-51) from three-point range this season.
• With three made free throws, extended his free throw streak to eight consecutive makes. Curry is shooting .905 (38-of-42) from the free throw line this season which ranks second in the ACC. 
• Increased his career scoring total to 931, needing 69 more points to become the 61st player in school history to reach the 1,000-point barrier.


• Scored eight points on 3-of-6 shooting in 16 minutes. It was Jefferson’s third straight game with at least seven points. He is averaging 9.0 points per game off the bench during that span. 


• Drew his 10th straight start and scored seven points with two blocks and an assist. 
• Added his team-leading 21st block of the season. Kelly has a block in seven consecutive games and multiple blocks in a team-high six games.


• Hit a three-pointer for the third straight game. Murphy is 3-of-7 from three-point range this season.
• Scored seven of Duke’s nine points during a span of 1:15 in the second half. Murphy hit all three shots – a three-pointer and two layups – during that span. 


• Played in his first career game after coming off the bench, along with Josh Hairston, as Duke’s first substitution. Plumlee missed Duke’s first nine games this season with a foot injury after redshirting as a freshman in 2011-12.
• Recorded his first career block and rebound in two minutes of action.


• Made his 74th start at Duke and 13th consecutive start. Plumlee has started 61 of Duke’s last 64 games.
• Finished a perfect 8-of-8 from the floor, falling one made field goal short of his career-best 9-of-9 shooting performance, which came against Lehigh in the 2012 NCAA Second Round. Plumlee has shot 50.0 percent or better in 15 consecutive games.
• Scored at least 16 points for the 11th consecutive game, dating back to the final game of the 2012 season.
• Scored 10 points in the first half, giving him double-digit scoring in 11 of Duke’s 20 halves this season and at least one double-figure scoring half in nine of Duke’s 10 games. 
• Added to his Duke record dunks total with two dunks, giving him 154 for his four-year career.
• Recorded three blocks, giving him 165 for his Duke career which ranks fifth in the school record books. 
• Increased his career points total to 960 and his career rebound total to 837. Plumlee needs just 40 more points and 163 more rebounds to become the ninth player in school history with 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds and the third with 1,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 150 blocks.


• Earned his 10th consecutive start and scored 16 points for his eighth double-figure scoring game of the season.
• Did not make a three-pointer for the first time all season after finishing 0-of-3 from three-point range. Sulaimon was 6-of-7 from inside the three-point line.
• Registered a career-high matching three steals for the second straight game. 


• Played 22 turnover-free minutes while contributing five assists. Thornton has not committed a turnover in his last 41:43 of play. He has 17 assists and just three turnovers over his last three games. 


• Scored his second career field goal, sinking a back-to-the-basket layup as the shot clock expired. Zafirovski has five points and two rebounds in his last two games. He had zero points and two rebounds in his 10 career games prior.


Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski

Opening Statement: 

“Our guys did a really good job tonight. Cornell didn’t waver from the way they play, and the way they play will end up being very successful for them in the Ivy League because they are more athletic. They are trying to get more athletic, and they are. They pushed the ball on us, and again I am not going to blame the layoff, we haven’t played in a week and a half. I didn’t think we were ready defensively and they were good. They were really good, and pushing the ball up. I didn’t think we had the emotion we needed to play defense. The last eight minutes of the first half we started getting it. We ended the first half really well, and then the second half we were terrific. Our guys were playing so hard, and so together, it was just very difficult for them to score. It was a great second half. We have to put that behind us right after the press conference and move on to our next opponent.”

On Quinn Cook and Tyler Thornton Taking Care of the Basketball

“They have been handling the ball well. Quinn [Cook] is really playing extremely well, and Tyler [Thornton] is usually just a workman like player. It is nothing flashy, and they value the ball pretty well. We had a lot of assists tonight and only a few turnovers and forced a lot of turnovers, but our guard play has been excellent since Kentucky. Since the Kentucky game we have been really good, but we have been really good at the guard spot.”

On Marshall Plumlee

“He did fine, and then he didn’t re-injure his foot, but he sprained his foot. He has a little slight sprain, and we didn’t want to put him back [in]. We weren’t completely sure. It was too bad, he would have had a lot of minutes tonight…they just said he hurt his foot, so I assume, and then they said he is not coming in the game, so I haven’t had a chance to talk to him yet.”

On Playing Back-to-Back Days

“You have to get games in. December is really a very difficult month for us because you have a two-week period of intense academics. That is why we didn’t schedule that mid-week game before Temple. When you take that game, that game has to be fit in somewhere, so it turned out this way. A lot too depends of when teams are available to play. It would have been good to play last night and then again tomorrow night but it just kind of worked out this way.”

On Quinn Cook’s Defensive Rebounding

“We have to keep working on our defensive rebounding. On most teams, the point guard doesn’t go to the offensive boards. On all the teams I have coached, once I learned a little bit more about coaching, I have tried to emphasize the point guard being a really good defensive rebounder because he doesn’t have anyone to block out. It is one of the great fast breaks when the point guard gets the rebound because you get a rebound there is no one in front of you, then you have this mass of people going. I am real close friends with Jason Kidd and obviously coached him in the Olympics, he is not a magnificent ball-handler; he is a magnificent passer. He is a good ball handler, but a lot of his stuff is when he has free vision and that is what happens when a point guard gets a rebound like that, he has free vision.”

On Winning USA Basketball Coach of the Year (with Geno Auriemma)

“There are not many coaches available to win that award. If you win, you are probably going to get that award, but then the alternative is not that good. I am very, very proud and honored to receive that award. We have had a chance to win it on a few occasions…Geno [Auriemma] did a great job, when you both win, you should both do that. USA Basketball works as a team, not just as men’s and women’s programs but with the senior and junior programs, and that is why USA basketball has won more championships top to bottom, age-wise than ever right now. Under Jerry Colangelo’s leadership and because of the culture that has been created so hopefully that can keep going.”

Senior Mason Plumlee:

On Quinn Cook’s 12-assist perform:

“It felt like he had more than that, just the way he was setting people up, just so in control. It’s really fun to play with. He’s so in control. I know he had 12 assists and one turnover. That’s awesome. And it’s fun to play with. It just makes everybody better.”

On the difference between this year’s team and last year’s team defensively:

“I think we’re a lot more athletic, especially on the perimeter. I think Rasheed [Sulaimon]’s quickness, his length [are key]. I think Quinn [Cook] is picking up the ball a lot better than he did last year, and his aggressiveness has been great because that’s really the first thing they see coming down. And then having guys like Amile [Jefferson] – Amile’s so long, whenever his guy shoots they’re always a little unsure because he can always get a hand on the ball. I think overall we’re more athletic and a little longer.”

On playing back-to-back games tonight and tomorrow night:

“Back-to-back’s not strange to us because we did [it in] the Bahamas, but it’s strange not playing for 12 days. This we’re used to now. Now we’re in game mode.”

Sophomore Quinn Cook:

“Turnovers are really the only thing I keep track of. The assists were great, and my teammates were finishing for me, so that’s a great thing.”

On the key to the strong finish to the first half and the second half success:

“[It was] just staying sharp and running our stuff. When we run our stuff, we’re very hard team to stop. And coach has counters to every play we have, so if a team scouts one thing, we have three options at each play. We just executed what he wanted after each timeout, at each dead ball. We just stayed sharp.”

On getting contributions from the whole team tonight:

“It’s fun, especially for Marshall [Plumlee]. He hasn’t played since China last year, 2011. It’s great to see him out there. [Alex] Murphy is just getting his confidence back, Todd [Zafirovski] scoring. It’s just great to have everybody out there producing.”

On tomorrow night’s matchup with Elon:

“They’re 7-3 and they’ve got some good players. They’re going to come in here tomorrow with a chip on their shoulder and wanting to shock the world, so we definitely want to come out with the same intensity we’ve had all year.”

Senior Seth Curry:

“It kind of took us a while to get our rhythm, and once we got into halftime, came back in the second half with a lot more energy, and found out who we were, we played a lot better.”

On the quick turnaround leading to tomorrow night’s matchup with Elon:

“We’ve done it before early in the season, so we kind of know how to approach a back-to-back situation. We’ll just get right back in the film room after this game and try to get a lot of rest tonight.”

On Duke’s No. 1 ranking: 

“It feels good to finally be recognized, but, at the same time, it means nothing right now early in the season. We just have to keep playing the way we’re playing and get better.”

Cornell Head Coach Bill Courtney

Opening Statement:

“They are really good. I thought our team played well in the first half. Eventually their length, size and quickness really affected us. They forced turnovers, because they are so long and so well disciplined on defense. On offense, they have great shot makers, their ability to make shots is unbelievable and that is what they do. They are a really good team.” 

On what happened in the second half

“Well, our defense in the first half was pretty good and we got some rebounds. They only had one offensive rebound at the half. When we get rebounds we are pretty good in transition and I think that helped us. Once they are able to get their defense back set, it is very difficult to score against them.”





Duke 88, Cornell 47 (Final): Alex Murphy came off the bench, and the redshirt freshman logged solid minutes, scoring 7 points. Duke was rolling in every facet of the game pretty much the entire second half and played very unselfishly. Cury, Plumlee and Sulaimon finished with 20, 18, and 16, respectively. Cook played terrifically at the point, dishing out 12 assists. It was an all around solid performance for the top-ranked Blue Devils.

Duke 73, Cornell 32 (10:49 2nd half): This game quickly got out of hand. Duke is firing on all cylinders, hitting shots, playing tenacious defense, and Cornell has no answer. The Blue Devils have held Cornell to two second half points.

Duke 49, Cornell 30 (17:17 2nd half): Duke got the start it need in the opening minutes of the second half. Plumlee now has 14 points and Duke is pulling away from the Big Red. The Blue Devils have executed their offense very well in the second half.

Duke 41, Cornell 30 (Halftime): It’s obvious that Duke is a bit out of sync after an 11-day layoff. The Blue Devils have struggled shooting from 3-point range, connecting on just 3-of-11 attempts. Being very aggressive and attacking the rim, Cornell has come out with no fear and it has been successful in getting in transition. The Blue Devils need to continue to work the ball inside. Luckily for Duke, it has been able to turnover the Big Red 14 times in the first half. Look for more ball pressure from the Duke defense in the second half as it tries to put this game away.

Duke 32, Cornell 26 (3:50 1st half): Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski has been subbing a fair amount so far in this game. Cornell continues to get in transition as Duke struggles to connect from distance, shooting just 2-of-10. The Blue Devils need to do a better job with shot selection going forward too.

Duke 26, Cornell 21 (7:29 1st half): Not going away easily in the first half, Cornell has answered with a run of its own every time Duke has look poised to take control. Shonn Miller has 8 points for the Big Red, who have been able to get to the rim. Cornell is also out-rebounding the Blue Devils 9-5 so far.

Duke 19, Cornell 15 (11:42 1st half): After a bit of a defensive letdown to start the game, Duke has been able to create turnovers, get out on the fast break and get some easy baskets. ‘Sheed has six points to lead Duke. Both point guards, Thornton and Cook, have had some brilliant passes as Duke looks to pull away.

Duke 8, Cornell 10 (15:57 1st half): Cornell has been able to get out in transition and get some easy buckets early. The Blue Devils need to do a better job matching up defensively and getting back on defense. With a big size advantage down low, Duke should be able to dominate on the block with Plumlee and Kelly. Curry, Kelly, Plumlee and Sulaimon all have 2 points.

Starters

Duke: Quinn Cook, Seth Curry, Rasheed Sulaimon, Ryan Kelly and Mason Plumlee

Cornell: Nolan Cressler, Johnathan Gray, Miles Asafo-Adjel, Shonn Miller and Eitan Chemerinski

Here are some pregame notes:
Redshirt freshman Marshall Plumlee is expected to make his debut as a Duke Blue Devil. The 7-foot center is coming off a foot injury that has kept him on the sidelines so far this year.
This is Duke’s first game in 11 days due to final exams, and it’s the Blue Devils’ first game as the No. 1 ranked team in the country.




DURHAM -- It took Duke until the opening minutes of the second half to play like the No. 1 team in the country, but once the clock started ticking on the final 20 minutes, the Blue Devils were unstoppable. Duke scored the first 19 points on the half to put the game out of reach in the 88-47 victory over Cornell. It was the Blue Devils’ most lopsided win of the year.

“You’re a little rusty, you haven’t gone up against another opponent in a while,” Ryan Kelly said, noting Duke hasn't played since Dec. 8. “Once that switch went, we did some really good things.”

Part of that switch flipping included playing better defense, which the Blue Devils were able to do starting about halfway through the opening period. The Big Red (4-7) was within single digits until the final minute of the opening half, when Mason Plumlee tap-in gave Duke an 11-point lead at the break. The Blue Devils quickly extended that once play resumed.

A 19-0 run pushed Duke’s lead to 60-30 before Errick Peck hit a jumper with 13:31 left in the game. Up until his shot, Cornell was 0-for-10 from the floor to open the second half and also committed three turnovers in that span.

“The second half, we were terrific,” head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “Our guys were playing so hard and so together, it was just very difficult for them to score. It was a great second half.”

Rasheed Sulaimon scored six of Duke’s first 12 points in the second half and finished with 16 points. Seth Curry, who did not appear to be slowed on either end by his right shin, led Duke with 20 points. Mason Plumlee was a perfect 8-of-8 from the floor for 18 points (though he was 2-of-5 from the free throw line). His nine rebounds in 26 minutes marked the first time in four games he didn’t pull down at least 10.

Quinn Cook set a new career-high in assists during the first minute of the second half and finished with 12 for the game, which went along with six points. He and Tyler Thornton combined for 17 assists and just one turnover. Defensively, the Blue Devils forced 26 turnovers, a season-high.

The Big Red was within two points of the Duke lead at 28-26 with five minutes remaining in the first half. The Blue Devils outscored the Big Red 48-8 over the next 15 minutes.

he game against Cornell was only Duke’s third of the month of December and first since playing Temple in New Jersey on Dec. 8. During the 11-day break, the Blue Devils focused primarily on academics, taking final exams. In practice, the emphasis was on offensive spacing, execution and defensive rebounding. Despite not starting a player taller than 6-foot-8, Cornell did outrebound Duke 17-10 in the first half, and Josh Hairston grabbed the only offensive rebound. The Big Red finished with a slight advantage on the boards for the game, grabbing 35 rebounds to Duke’s 30.

For the game, the Blue Devils shot 56.7 percent from the field, a season-high.

After waiting nearly a year and a half to make his Duke debut, Marshall Plumlee saw the floor for the first time this year, logging a rebound and blocked shot in two first-half minutes. Discomfort with the orthotic designed to protect his left foot prevented him from returning, as Duke kept him out as a precaution.

“Something like that you get scared, because you’re just coming back from an injury,” Krzyzewski said. “It’s too bad, he would have had a lot of minutes tonight.”

Every Duke player saw the floor, and former walk-on Todd Zafirovski scored three points, a career-high. Amile Jefferson led Duke’s reserves with eight points in 16 minutes. Josh Hairston led Duke’s reserve big men with 19 minutes.

The Blue Devils will be back on the court Thursday at 7 p.m. to play Elon (6-4) in the final game before their holiday break.





Read more here: http://blogs.newsobserver.com/dukenow/postgame-thoughts-from-dukes-88-47-win-over-cornell#storylink=cpy

Duke tips again in less than 24 hours. With that in mind, a lighter dose of thoughts with more to come after there's, well, more to think about:

***That big black eye Marshall Plumlee was sporting Wednesday night? It was a result of an inadvertent poke by Ryan Kelly in practice.

***Mike Krzyzewski offered Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim congratulations on his 900th victory after Duke’s win. It was delivered with a heavy amount of sarcasm.
“How does a guy like that win so many games?” Krzyzewski said to a chorus of laughs. “He has no personality, he plays zone all the time, he golfs more than he watches tape. He must have a great staff and unbelievable players over the years.
“It is amazing that somebody can be at a school for 50 years,” said Krzyzewski, who has been at Duke 33 seasons. “He’s there for 50 years.”

***The back-to-back games against Cornell and Elon would have ideally been played over three days instead of two, Krzyzewski said, but scheduling around Duke’s academic needs can make December tough.
“You have to get games in,” he said. “December is really a difficult month for us because you have a two-week period of intense academics. That’s why we didn’t schedule that midweek game before Temple. So, when you take that game out, that game has to be fit in somewhere. It turned out this way. A lot depends, too, on when teams are available to play.”

***Seth Curry has scored 20 points in three straight games (remember that he didn't play against Delware with a left ankle injury). The senior is averaging 21 points in his last three games, wins over Cornell, Temple and Ohio State.

***I mentioned it in the game story, but it's worth repeating: Quinn Cook and Tyler Thornton combined for 17 assists and one turnover. Cook recorded a career-high 12 assists.
"It felt like he had more than that, the way he was setting people up," Mason Plumlee said of Cook. "He's so in control and is really fun to play with."


Read more here: http://blogs.newsobserver.com/dukenow/postgame-thoughts-from-dukes-88-47-win-over-cornell#storylink=cpy
Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2012/12/20/2555513/live-from-durham-no-1-duke-hosts.html#storylink=cpy



Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2012/12/20/2555513/live-from-durham-no-1-duke-hosts.html#storylink=cp




For much of the first half, it looked like Duke had had nine days off. Some credit goes to Cornell for not being intimidated early. Shonn Miller looked great to start the game as the Big Red caught Duke napping in transition several times. Duke was still shooting the ball well, but just looked a little out of sync on both ends. But as Doris Burke pointed out during the broadcast, good teams finish halves strong, and Duke finally spurted out to an eleven point margin thanks to a 13-4 run.

After what I imagine was a fiery locker room where some talk about intensity was likely mentioned, Duke put the hammer down to start the second half. Quinn could do no wrong on his way to a career high 12 assists, and Cornell could do little right on the way to 25 turnovers. Cornell had twelve straight empty possessions and 18/19 opportunites to start the half. Duke meanwhile had 11 layups/dunks in the second half as the Crazies started the "More than Double" chant early and often. Some random thoughts:

- Stop me if you've heard this, but there was a Plumlee injury yesterday. Sigh. Hope he is okay and this was just a precaution. He looked good in his two minutes...
- Every Duke player scratched positively in the box score (including a new career high 3 points for Zafirofsky) led by another confident shooting night from Seth finishing with 20 and Mason missing another double double(18 and 9) only because of playing time. Our PG duo finished with 17 assists and only 1 turnover. Quinn's aforementioned 12 dimes is the most in a Duke game since Greg Paulus (go figure) had 15 in 2005.
- If there is any low light to point out, it would be giving up 9 offensive rebounds and losing the battle of the boards again. Granted Cornell missed 35 shots - so its off reb percentage was an acceptable 25%. But Duke managed to grab only 15% of their misses. It's nit picking, but it's a problem.
- I can't remember ever seeing home games on back to back nights at Duke, so nice to blow the game open and allow 4 guys off the bench to log more than 15 minutes and no player have more than 26.





Defense wins championships. 

I'm usually far from a fan of that statement simply because it's overused way too often—you know what else wins championships? Offense. And coaching. And talent. And lots of things.

In Duke's case, though, that infamous cliche might just be the truth. If the Blue Devils play defense like they're capable of, and like they displayed on Wednesday night, a National Championship is obtainable for the No. 1 team in the nation.

Duke's strengths are obvious. 

On offense, Mike Krzyzewski's squad has been nearly unstoppable despite running a six-man rotation most of the time. The Devils are 10th in the nation in points per possession at 1.131. They are 18th in three-point field-goal percentage. They are 16th in assist-to-turnover ratio. They are balanced, anyone can beat you and five out of the six main rotation players can beat you from the outside.

But this much we knew at the beginning of the season.

Well, we knew the Blue Devils offense was going to be its biggest strength. We might not have predicted Quinn Cook's improvement or Mason Plumlee's free-throw improvement, but we still knew they were going to put the ball in the hoop at a good rate.

However, going forward, the key for Duke will be on the defensive side of the ball. 

First, and most importantly, it's simple: Defense leads to offense. 

Again, the Devils don't need much help on offense, but when they are able to force turnovers and get on the break, open shots are inevitable. Considering how they are shooting the ball this year, open shots are going to make them unbeatable. 

Second, the Blue Devils need to find a way to offset their awful rebounding. 

The simple rebounding margin stat can often be misleading, but Duke is 302nd in the country in rebounding percentage at 47.1 percent, which is a better indicator of prowess on the boards.

Marshall Plumlee should help, yes, but he's not going to completely reverse that number. 

Still, you can win games while losing the rebounding battle, and as Duke proved against Cornell, you do that by playing defense and forcing turnovers. 

The Big Red outrebounded the Devils by 13 percent, a fairly large advantage, but since Duke was able to force 25 turnovers (a ridiculous 33.4 percent turnover rate for Cornell), they were able to cut down on the importance of lost shots via the rebound battle.

As a result, Krzyzewski and company walked away with a 39-point win.

Duke obviously won't be playing Cornell every week, but this was a prime example of how defense can make up for the Blue Devils' biggest weaknesses. 

Their shots won't always be falling, and should that happen in March, Duke is going to have to be able to fall back on its defense.





Durham, NC – There was an early moment of trepidation in Cameron Indoor Stadium on Wednesday night before top-ranked Duke turned it on in a scoring surge rarely seen.

Seth Curry led a balanced attack with 20 points and Mason Plumlee added 18 points and nine boards, as the Blue Devils used an eye-popping second-half run to rout Cornell, 88-47.

Rasheed Sulaimon posted 16 points and Quinn Cook added six points and 12 assists for the Blue Devils (10-0), who posted their 99th straight non- conference victory in Durham, the longest such streak in the country. They used a 41-4 scoring start to the second half to break open a close game early.

"In the second half we came out with a lot more energy," said Curry. "Our defense was a lot better. We translated tipped balls into layups and fast- break points."

Shonn Miller led Cornell (4-7) with 14 points and six rebounds. The Big Red made things interesting early just two days after falling by 11 points at Vanderbilt.

Cornell had an early 12-8 lead and still was within striking distance at 28-25 after Miller's jumper with just under six minutes to play in the first half. The Blue Devils built a 41-30 margin at the half, but it was a methodical extension of the advantage that served as little evidence for the oncoming onslaught.

The Blue Devils started the second half with a 41-4 surge, including 10 points from Curry, to take an 82-34 lead. Cornell went nearly 6 1/2 minutes before its first points of the half, missing its first 10 shots, and started the second half 2-of-17 from the floor.

Duke didn't miss much during that time period, making 13 of its first 15 shots including Amile Jefferson's slam for a 57-30 lead. Errick Peck's bucket for the Big Red stopped a 19-0 run, but Curry responded with six in a row for a 66-32 lead.

The rout was on from there as Duke played every player on its bench and all but two scored.

Game Notes

Jefferson scored eight points and Alex Murphy added seven off the bench ... Duke ended the game on a 60-21 run ... The 41-4 scoring surge spanned 12 minutes, 45 seconds ... Mike Krzyzewski improved to 24-1 against the Ivy League as Duke head coach .. Duke didn't score a single second-chance point in the win.




Quick Summary: The Duke Blue Devils overcame a rough first half, utilizing a 23-0 run to blow past the Cornell Big Red, 88-47.

If you’re in school, or were in school at some point over the course of your life, then you remember the absurd amount of difficulty you experienced when going back to school after a long break. You weren’t used to waking up early or having to think hard about anything anymore, and the whole mental and physical groove you typically found yourself in when you attended school ceased to exist. Of course, it only takes you a short while before you’re back to whatever level you were at before, but the beginning – oh, the beginning – was a disaster in every way.

Insert the Duke Blue Devils playing a competitive game of basketball for the first time in eleven days.

The first half, to put it nicely, looked like something out of a Roland Emmerich film. Turnovers were aplenty, missed shots came in bunches, both teams couldn’t manage to run the simplest of plays, and even Mason Plumlee decided to revert back to his poor free throw shooting ways. I take back the Roland Emmerich comparison, this was more like the 12 Days of Crappy Basketball Christmas, than anything. By the end of it, the Blue Devils led 41-30, but we were all left looking around at each other with a ‘what the hell just happened?’ look on our face. I don’t think anyone of us ever felt like Duke was capable of losing this game, but we certainly weren’t expecting one of the worst offensive teams in the country to hang around with the likes of Plumlee, Curry, Cook, Kelly, and Sulaimon for an entire half.

Then, the second half happened.

I’m not sure what went on in that locker room. For all I know, Coach K threw his whole team in the shower and furiously scrubbed them all down with Evapo-Rust Super Safe Rust Remover. A completely different team came out of that locker room, though, and they appeared to have every intention of running the Big Red out of Cameron Indoor Stadium.

At one point, Duke had gone on a 23-0 run. At another point, Duke had outscored Cornell 32-2 in the second half. At another point, the whole Cornell team was cuddled up in the fetal position screaming at their coach to make the bad man stop. This wasn’t Duke cruising to victory, this was Duke beating the living and deceased crap out of younger, less-talented, and less-experienced team. This game got so bad that Alex Murphy, Duke’s mythical bench-warmer, outscored all but one of Cornell’s players. Todd Zafirovski, who had only seen action in one other game prior to this one, even managed to drop three points. It was a Christmas party out there, and everyone on the Duke roster was invited. Quinn Cook took on the role of present distributor, handing out 12 assists.

To the notes!:

-Marshall Plumlee made his season debut, pulling in a rebound and a block in two minutes of work. Coach K let it be known that he was very being very cautious with the Redshirt Freshman, not wanting to re-aggravate his injured foot.

-Mason Plumlee went 8-8 from the field, ending the game with 18 points and 9 rebounds in just 26 minutes of playing time. He did shoot 40% from the free throw line, but we can chalk that up to the 11-day layoff and a small sample size. The senior also inadvertently managed to tip one into his own basket at one point. Yes, everyone made fun of him for it on Twitter.

-At one point during the game, a Cornell guard tried to use a few fancy dribble moves to get by Ryan Kelly. Kelly, of course, stuck his hand in there, easily stole the ball, then knocked down a three-pointer at the other end. This series of events was Cornell’s entire game in a nutshell.

-Duke returns to the court tonight against the Elon Phoenix, a team that has managed to get out to a 6-4 start this season. The game will start at 7pm (ET) and will be televised on ESPNU.


Herald Sun

DURHAM —
Showing rust from an extended break from games for final exams, Duke didn’t look like the nation’s No. 1 team for the first 15 minutes of play Wednesday night.

The rest of the night, though, the Blue Devils easily lived up to their accolades.
Playing for the first time since moving up to No. 1 in the national polls, Duke scored 23 consecutive points to pull away and dominate Cornell 88-47 at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
“It was pretty obvious that we weren’t who we have been all season early in the first half,” Duke senior guard Seth Curry said. “Once we got into halftime, we got our rhythm going in the second half and played better.”
The gaudy final margin — Duke’s largest of the season — covered up how well Cornell played in the first 15 minutes. The Big Red (4-7) found high-percentage shots, mostly in transition, and trailed 28-26 with 4:56 to play until halftime.
But over the game’s next 11 minutes, bridging the first and second halves, Duke only allowed Cornell to make two baskets.
“The second half, we were terrific,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “Our guys were playing so hard and so together. It was very difficult for them to score. It was a great second half.”
The Blue Devils rattled off 23 consecutive points during one stretch in particular, moving the score from 37-30 to 60-30.
“In the second half, our defense starting picking up, we got in the passing lanes better, finishing plays, getting defensive rebounds and starting our break,” Duke freshman guard Rasheed Sulaimon said. “We just got back to having fun.”
Duke (10-0) logged 11 steals as Cornell turned the ball over 26 times. Sulaimon, emerging as Duke’s top perimeter defender despite his youth, had three steals to lead the Blue Devils.
“They are really good,” Cornell coach Bill Courtney said. “I though our team played well in the first half. Eventually, their length, size and quickness really affected us. They forced turnover because they are so long and so well disciplined on defense.”
Offensively, Duke made a season-best 57 percent of its shots to blast the Big Red. Curry hit 7 of 10 shots for a team-best 20 points. Mason Plumlee was perfect on all eight of his shots from the field to score 18 points.
He even suffered the embarrassment of scoring a basket for Cornell in the first half when he tipped the ball in while attempting to grab a rebound.
“It was not one of my brighter moments,” Plumlee said with a laugh. “It was a terrible play.”
There weren’t many terrible plays for Duke in the game, especially in the backcourt. Curry’s 20 points were impressive. But sophomore point guard Quinn Cook also played well with a career-best 12 assists.
The Blue Devils had 23 assists on their 34 field goals, showing how well they passed the ball. Cook and junior guard Tyler Thornton, the team’s two main point guards, combined for 17 assists with only one turnover.
“Our guard play has been excellent since the Kentucky game,” Krzyzewski said.
Even though he missed his only three 3-pointers, Sulaimon made 6 of 10 shots overall to score 16 points.
About the only downside to the game was the somewhat murky injury situation with Marshall Plumlee.
The redshirt freshman center finally made his Duke debut in the first half, playing two minutes. He blocked a shot and grabbed a rebound.
But during his short stint, Marshall Plumlee felt discomfort in his left foot, where a stress fracture had occurred in October that prevented him from playing in the Blue Devils’ first nine games. Duke’s training staff, as a precaution, ruled him out for the remainder of the game.
After the game, the report from the training staff was that Marshall Plumlee didn’t suffer any new structural damage to the foot. Rather, the discomfort stemmed from an orthotic device he’s wearing in his left shoe to protect the foot.
“We didn’t want to put him back in,” Krzyzewski said. “We weren’t completely sure. It was too bad. He would have played a lot of minutes.”
Duke will have little time to mull Marshall Plumlee’s situation. The Blue Devils play Elon tonight (7 p.m., ESPNU) in their final game before a holiday break.




DURHAM – Even the No. 1 team in the nation can get a little rusty from going 11 days without playing a game.

Wednesday night, it took Duke the better part of a half to shake off all that inactivity.

Once it did, coach Mike Krzyzewski’s team looked every bit the part of its new top-ranked status by rolling to an 88-47 victory against Cornell at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

The Blue Devils led their Ivy League opponent by only four after 16½ minutes of play. But any thoughts of an earth shattering upset were quickly dispelled when Duke scored the first 18 points of the second half.

Seth Curry, Mason Plumlee and Rasheed Sulaimon combined for 54 points and point guard Quinn Cook handed out a career-high 12 assists to fuel a Blue Devil blitz that was so thorough, Krzyzewski was able to substitute liberally in anticipation of playing another game 24 hours later.

“No matter how hard you practice, not having a game for 10 days or whatever, you’re going to come out a little slow,” said center Mason Plumlee, whose 18 points and 8 for 8 shooting don’t include the tip-in he had for Cornell during that sluggish opening stretch. “That’s what happened. Then obviously, we turned it on. It was good to get back into a groove playing defense and getting out on the break.”

Duke (10-0) was nearly flawless in both areas during a second half in which it outscored the Big Red 47-17 and forced Cornell into 36.4 percent shooting after allowing it to make more than half of its shots during the opening 20 minutes.

Curry led the Blue Devils with 20 points while freshman Sulaimon added 16, but this was a night on which everyone got to join in on the fun.

Redshirt freshman center Marshall Plumlee saw the first action of his career, though only for two minutes before reinjuring a foot that had kept him out for the first nine game. Seldom-used Alex Murphy played the final 16 minutes without coming out.

Even former walkon Todd Zafirovski got into the act by scoring a career-high three points.

“In the second half, you saw our defense picked up, our energy picked up, we started getting into the passing lanes better, finishing plays, getting defensive rebounds (and) finishing our plays,” Suliamon said. “We just got back to having fun.”

It was so much fun, the Blue Devils couldn’t wait to get back out onto the court and do it again.

This time, they won’t have to wait 11 days to play their next game.

In an unusual scheduling twist, they’ll be right back at Cameron on Thursday for a game against Elon.

“December is really a very difficult month for us because you have a two-week period of intense academics,” Krzyzewski said after praising his team for playing a “terrific” second half. “A lot too depends on when teams are available to play. It would have been good to play (Tuesday) night and then again (Thursday), but it just kind of worked out this way.”

Not that his players are complaining.

Many of them are used to playing multiple games in the same day in AAU ball. Duke has already played and won back-to-back games this season at the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas.

“It’s pretty weird, but we’ve had situations of playing back-to-back games before, so we should know how to handle it,” said Curry.

Of all the Blue Devils, the senior guard figures to have the most difficult time bouncing back against Elon. He’s been suffering from shin splints since preseason practice. Wednesday, he had those shins iced down as a precaution while he sat on the bench while the subs played out the final few minutes.

“They wanted to get the ice on me as soon as possible and get me a little rest,” Curry said. “We’ll find out (Thursday), but I should be okay to play.”

At least he won’t have to worry about rust.



As the “silly season” continues, it is always incumbent upon a team’s senior leadership to step up and make sure their team stays in step with the season regardless of who they are playing. On Wednesday night, Mason Plumlee did just that in going a perfect 8-for-8 from the field as he helped spark Duke to an 88-47 win over Cornell at Cameron Indoor Stadium.


Plumlee, along with fellow senior Seth Curry, was a huge part of a 41-4 run over the first 12 minutes of the second half that helped put Cornell away and keep Duke ranked No. 1 in the polls for at least another day. Curry’s 20 points were a game-high, edging out Plumlee (18 points) and Rasheed Sulaimon (16 points).

“It kind of took us a while to get our rhythm,” said Curry. “And once we got into halftime, came back in the second half with a lot more energy, and found out who we were, we played a lot better.”

Cornell came out hot early, grabbing a 12-8 lead early behind eight early points from Shonn Miller. But back-to-back layups from Sulaimon and a fastbreak three from Quinn Cook (6 points, 12 assists) erased that deficit rather quickly, effectively squashing any momentum Cornell had.

Marshall Plumlee made his debut for the season early on, logging two minutes in the first half. In his first action of the season, Marshall managed to get a block and a rebound before aggravating his injured foot, ending his night.

“He did fine,” said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski. “It was too bad, he would have had a lot of minutes tonight…they just said he hurt his foot, so I assume, and then they said he is not coming in the game.”

As exciting as it was to see Marshall and how encouraging it was to see fellow freshmen Amile Jefferson (8 points, 3 rebounds) and Alex Murphy (7 points, 3 rebounds, block ,steal) play well, the real story of the game was the play of Mason Plumlee in the post. An early All-American candidate, Miles showed off his now-more developed post game and earned the praise of color analyst Doris Burke on several occasions.

Plumlee seemed to have every move in the post figured out ahead of time, giving him even more of an advantage over Cornell’s already overmatched big men. His ability to catch, make a move and finish at the rim is the biggest single difference between his play this year and last.

Being the first of back-to-back games, Duke must now focus on Elon.

“Back-to-back’s not strange to us because we did [it in] the Bahamas, but it’s strange not playing for 12 days,” said Miles. “This we’re used to now. Now we’re in game mode.”

And that’s bad news for Elon.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well, the silver lining here is that Miller may have earned himself a second Ivy League Player of the Week nod.