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Beyond the arc: Duke vs. Wake Forest

The three-ball was falling and Ryan Kelly was dominant as No. 1 Duke disposed of Wake Forest by the score of 80-62 Saturday at Cameron Indoor Stadium to open ACC play.

Here's your postgame breakdown:

Revisiting the three keys to the game:

  • Mason and the double team: Wake Forest did an excellent job in the first half forcing the ball out of Mason's hands when he was in the paint, resulting in just three field goal and two free throw attempts for Plumlee. The second half was a different story, and Mason ended up scoring 13 points. On days when the three point shot isn't falling the way it was today, the ability to shut down Mason will be a big concern for the Blue Devils.
  • Is slow starting becoming a thing?: Duke didn't start especially slow today, so no, the slow start isn't a thing just yet. Then again, the team was shooting at a remarkable clip from beyond the arc, which may have helped fend off a slow start. They didn't hit a two-point bucket for almost 11 minutes to start the game.
  • Is the rotation set?: The rotation is mostly set. Marshall Plumlee and Amile Jefferson got some scrap minutes in the first half, but the rotation was still basically the same seven guys we've seen all season. The lead ballooned in the second half, which allowed the bench to get extra burn. There's no reason to expect a change in Coach K's rotation this season.

Three key plays of the game:

  • 9:04, first half: Quinn Cook lifted a beautiful alley-oop to Mason Plumlee to give Duke a 27-19 lead. The fact that Cook found Plumlee isn't what makes this play special. Instead, it is noteworthy because it was Duke's first two-point basket of the game. Yes, it took the Blue Devils almost 11 minutes to get a two-point hoop, but they did hit seven triples in that time frame. The basket was also Plumlee's only hoop of the half.
  • 0:01, first half: C.J. Harris swooped to the hoop for a lay-in, making the score 41-30 Duke at the half. Harris' basket gave the Demon Deacons a 9-3 run to end the half, making it a game once again. In that stretch Duke failed to make a field goal, scoring all three points on free throws.
  • 10:38, second half: Marshall Plumlee took a pass from Quinn Cook for his first career points. At this point the game looked out of hand and Duke was well on its way to a 1-0 ACC record, which allowed Plumlee to get his first taste of extended minutes. After redshirting last season and spending most of non-conference play out with injury, Marshall finally got his first points as a Blue Devil.

Three key stats:

  • Duke was +12 in the turnover margin: Duke forced 19 Demon Deacon turnovers. The five Wake Forest starters alone had double the total turnovers by the Blue Devils. Oppressive defense from Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon especially baffled the opposing guards.
  • 14 Quinn Cook assists: On a night where Cook couldn't buy a basket -- he was 0-for-12 -- he doled out a career-high 14 assists. Cook's exceptional passing helped attribute to Duke having all 12 first half field goals come off of assists.
  • Duke shot 50 percent from the line: This wasn't a perfect game for the Blue Devils. A glaring negative for the team was its poor free throw shooting. As a team the Blue Devils shot 11-of-22 from the charity stripe, with Mason Plumlee struggling to the tune of 3-of-9. Moving forward Duke needs to convert on their free throws to stay ahead of top ACC talent.

And the Duke game ball goes to ...Ryan Kelly: Kelly was on fire to start the game, allowing him to score a season-high 22 points despite spending much of the game in foul trouble and eventually fouling out. He ended the night 6-of-9 from the field -- 5-of-7 from three -- with four rebounds -- three offensive -- and a block.

And the Wake Forest game ball goes to ...Travis McKie: McKie, the Demon Deacon's leading scorer, led Wake Forest with 22 points and added 12 rebounds for good measure. McKie's presence was felt defensively as well, coming away with two steals and a block. McKie and guard C.J. Harris combined for 41 of Wake's 62 points Saturday.


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