It was billed as a classic matchup between two storied programs that were highly ranked and whose coaches were part of the greatest game in the history of college basketball.
No. 5 Duke’s 76-71 win over No.2 Louisville was not that game but it proved to be a very good early season game and test for a growing Blue Devil team. Duke got double figures from all members of its starting line up with Mason Plumlee leading the way with 16 points and 7 rebounds.
It was point guard Quinn Cook who came up big down the stretch hitting a clutch shot and making free throws that helped seal the deal for the Blue Devils. Cook scored 15 points, handed out 6 assists. Duke also got 14 points apiece out of Seth Curry, Ryan Kelly, and Rasheed Sulaimon.
Defensively the Blue Devils put pressure on Louisville who played a sloppy game overall turning the ball over 15 times and putting Duke on the foul line for 27 attempts of which they made 23 of those. And when you shoot 85 percent from the free throw line you will generally be a tough team to beat.
Louisville got solid play from their guard tandem of Peyton Siva and Russ Smith who scored 19 and 17 points respectively. The Cardinals also did a solid job of out rebounding the Blue Devils despite being without one of their best post players in Gorgui Dieng who had a cast on his arm following an injury suffered in Friday night’s victory over Missouri.
The victory moves Duke to 6-0 and gives them two victories over teams ranked in the Top 3. Earlier this month the Blue Devils took down then No. 3 Kentucky and now they have bested the Wildcast fierece in-state rival. And there is no rest for the weary as Duke must next take on No. 3 Ohio State.
Last season following their run to the Maui Invitational Title Duke traveled back east and played Ohio State and were soundly beaten by the Buckeyes in Columbus in the Big 10-ACC Challenge. This year the Blue Devils will try to exact some revenge, this time on their home court.
We will have more analysis on their victory in the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament later.
Mason Plumlee was named to the All-Tournament Team while Quinn Cook was named the Tournament’s Most Valuable Player. The victory marks Duke’s 23 straight victory in an in-season tournament.
Duke did not go very deep into their bench again and that is something that will have to increase, at least to an extent as the year goes on. The Blue Devils played all 9 of their regular roation players but only Tyler Thornton played more than 10 minutes.
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