It may not have been the NCAA Tournament but the Duke VCU game was no less entertaining as the Blue Devils held on to win 67-58 and advance to the championship game in the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament.
Duke won despite being out rebounded by the smaller VCU Rams. Mason Plumlee once again lead the Devils with 17 points and 10
rebounds. His 21st career double double. The Rams dominated the offensive glass though 16-4, but that was the only stat they dominated.
The Blue held their own in every other category. The assist category in particular showed much improvement over their first game in Atlantis, 14-4, with Quinn Cook leading the way with 9 assists. Duke shot 42 percent from the field to VCU’s 32 percent,and knocked down 24 of 27 from the free throw line while the Rams struggled down the stretch.
VCU opened up an early lead with their “Havoc” defense, but Duke utilized the ball handling of Ryan Kelly and Plumlee to beat the press time and time again. Treveon Graham scored 16 for VCU who along with a double double from Juvonte Reddic who had 16 points and 12 boards gave Duke an early season test.
The game was tight throughout but VCU never quite made a run to get closer than a couple possessions late in the game. Duke hit their free throws down the stretch, while the Rams missed several big attempts, aiding in the Duke margin of victory.
Duke will play Louisville tonight for the Battle for Atlantis title. This will be the first meeting between Blue Devil coach Mike Krzyzewski and Cardinal coach Rick Pitino since 1992 when Duke beat Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament Regional Finals on Christian Laettner’s last second shot.
Against VCU Duke really only went 7 players deep, which may test their conditioning playing a third game in as many days. The Blue Devils will have a tough match up, but if they continue with their balanced scoring attack (4 starters in double figures, Quinn Cook had 9), they will continue to be a hard team to beat.
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