Seniors are always the heart of a college basketball team and in an era when four-year players are a rarity, Duke enjoyed the pleasure of sending off three players in somewhat of a grand fashion.
It wasn’t always pretty but the Blue Devils took care of business putting away Virginia Tech late in the second half to win comfortably 85-57 and finish the 2012-2013 season undefeated, the 17th such time.
As for Duke’s seniors they were led by Seth Curry’s 20 points on 6-11 shooting. Ryan Kelly’s performance wasn’t quite the 36 point effort from this past weekend but he was solid yet again scoring 18 points on 6-12 shooting. Kelly also added 9 rebounds as he played in only his second game in the last two months.
Kelly’s long-awaited return was supposed to open things up for fellow senior Mason Plumlee but he had another middle of the road performance scoring 14 points while grabbing 7 rebounds. It wasn’t an awful performance but it was underwhelming as he saw significantly fewer double teams as Kelly opened up the floor. Plumlee’s lack-luster play will need to improve as well as Duke’s defense.
The Blue Devils held Virginia Tech to just under 40 percent shooting but the Hokies guards had far too many easy opportunities and at one point Mike Krzyzewski laid into his team late in the first half.
Duke appeared to receive the message as they came out in the second half and used a few different runs to gradually build the lead before pulling away after with about 7 minutes remaining. Hokies guard Erick Green led the way for Virginia Tech with 25 points and once again showed why he is one of the better player in not only the ACC but the country.
In what could be classified as a classic trap game prior to Duke’s regular season finale against arch rival North Carolina, the Blue Devils appeared at times tired and flat. The Cameron Crazies also didn’t appear to have the same level of energy they showed this past Saturday against Miami when Duke defeated the No. 5 Hurricanes.
The Blue Devils will have a few days to rest before their showdown with North Carolina in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels are currently one of the hottest teams in the conference and looking to improve their NCAA seeding and a win over their hated rival would certainly help.
Duke, which is still working Kelly back into the lineup will be looking to sweep North Carolina while hoping that some how Miami drops its remaining two games, both at home.
At this point it is more likely that Duke will finish second in the regular season standings behind the Hurricanes but have secured a first day bye in the ACC Tournament. The time between Tuesday night’s game and Saturday will hopefully allow Kelly and the rest of his teammates time to rest up prior to the always intense match up between the bitter rivals.
For the Duke seniors though, there is no place like home and unfortunately for them and for Blue Devil fans Tuesday was the last time we’ll seem them in Cameron except as visitors.
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