For much of the game it looked as if, despite all its mistakes, Duke managed to stay within arms reach of Louisville but all that came crashing down.
Louisville used a huge spurt in the second half to pull away and beat Duke going away 85-63 on their way to Atlanta. The Blue Devils will be headed home and for three Duke players their race has now been run.
Mason Plumlee led all Duke scorers with 17 points and he chipped in 12 rebounds while fellow senior Seth Curry finished with 12 points after not scoring at all in the first half. Ryan Kelly finished with 7 points ending his Duke career and failing to score in double figures in any of his final six games.
Duke struggled throughout the game to stop or even slow down Louisville’s guard tandem of Russ Smith (23 points) and Peyton Siva (16 points). The two guards were able to score at will and the Blue Devil’s defense offered little to no resistance. And speaking of defense you simply can’t say enough good things about Louisville’s pressure.
The Cardinals gave Duke fits all night long and forced the Blue Devils into 11 turnovers, most in the first half but the continuous pressure kept them off balance all game.
Duke had a couple of opportunities to build a lead or capitalize on momentum but seemingly every time they had that chance a huge mistake or lapse squandered the opportunity.
The Blue Devils got very little production out of freshman Rasheed Sulaimon who appeared nervous and flustered throughout and Quinn Cook, while better than he was Friday against Michigan State, was also not able to get the Duke offense in sink against the intense non stop pressure
The short term effects are the end of the careers of three very successful Blue Devils. It was a team that had many strengths and several short comings and unfortunately those showed against Louisville.
We will have a full season recap in the coming days as well as a look at what the future holds, and for next year at least it looks pretty bright.
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