After a shaky first half, the Blue Devils went on to rout Florida Gulf Coast 88-67 at Cameron Indoor Stadium Sunday night. Mason Plumlee recorded a career-high 28 points in the win.
Here's your postgame breakdown:
Revisiting the three keys to the game:
- Will Seth Curry stay hot? Curry's shot wasn't on, but luckily for him, his teammates picked him up. He made it into double figures in the second half, but this game really wasn't about Curry or his shooting. When he wasn't hot, the other guards made their buckets. He ended up with 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting, though he was just 2-of-8 from 3-point range.
- Can Quinn Cook get his act together?—Yes, yes and yes. He hit two critical 3-pointers in the first half, on consecutive possessions, but his passing is what was even more remarkable. Tallying eight points and nine assists, Cook is the reason the offense moved so fluidly in the late part of the first half. Cook had a minor breakthrough against Kentucky, playing very well in the first half and starting the second half. He followed through with that tonight, pushing the offense and regularly hitting the open guy.
- What is to become of Amile Jefferson and Alex Murphy? Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski continued to use three-guard lineups for much of the game, but Amile Jefferson saw meaningful minutes in the first half. Jefferson scored four points but was more impactful on the defensive end, recording two steals and one block. Alex Murphy, however, sat the entire first 20 minutes. He played a good portion of the second half, but that was all garbage time. He still is on the outside looking in at this rotation. He did not get on the scoreboard, going 0-of-2 from the field, and added two rebounds.
Three key plays of the game
- 19:33, first half: Looking at the final score, it's easy to forget how close this game was for most of the first half. Well, it was and Florida Gulf Coast forward Chase Fieler set the tone for that on the first possession of the game, nailing a 3-pointer and giving the Eagles an early lead. Plays like that had Duke on the run early, but then...
- 5:22, first half: Spurring Duke's 30-point run (more on that later), Quinn Cook nailed his second consecutive 3-pointer. The Blue Devils started the game cold from beyond the arc but Cook, who isn't typically known for his outside shooting abilities, hit two treys in a row, putting the Eagles on their heels and throwing them off balance on both ends of the floor. Florida Gulf Coast didn't score for the rest of the half after the second of Cook's 3-pointers.
- 19:50, second half: Halftime coud not come sooner for the Eagles with Duke amid what would become a 30-point run, but Ryan Kelly ensured that the Blue Devils maintained the momentum out of the break. Kelly coolly knocked down a trey just 10 seconds into the half. Cook assisted the shot, emblematic of how he effectively facilitated the offense all night.
Three key stats:
- 30-point run—People like to talk about whether or not a team can handle the patented Duke run. Well, Sunday's was as good as it gets for the Blue Devils. After a sloppy beginning to the first half in which they trailed by as many as six points, Duke trailed 30-29 with 5:40 left in the period. The Blue Devils held the Eagles scoreless for the rest of the half and the first 1:58 of the second half as they went on a 30-point run, taking a commanding 59-30 lead.
- Eight turnovers in 5:40—Why couldn't the Eagles score at the end of the first half? During the span of 5:40 in which Florida Gulf Coast did not score to close out the first half, they turned it over eight times. Eight. They only had five shots in that entire span.
- Mason Plumlee 9-of-11 from the field—Not only did Plumlee tally a career-high points total, but also he was uber-efficient on the offensive end, missing just two shots. He was also 10-of-11 from the free throw line (yes, you're reading that right).
And the Duke game ball goes to ... Mason Plumlee. As critical as 3-point shooting and perimeter defense was to Duke's 30-point run, Plumlee was there all night as a rock in the post. He supplemented his 28 points with nine rebounds. The Eagles had no answer for him—they tried to front him, tried to double-team him... none of it worked. It felt as if on any given possession if the guards could get it to Plumlee on the block, he would have no problem putting it home.
And the Florida Gulf Coast game ball goes to ... Shoutout to Bernard Thompson, who was the only person from Florida Gulf Coast to really compete on both ends for all 40 minutes. Not only did he finish with 25 points, but also he was a big reason the Blue Devils finished with 18 turnovers. Thompson finished the game with an impressive five steals.