Like so many times in games coming off a loss Duke came out determined to put it behind them and put their opponent out of the game early.
On Thursday night the Blue Devils did just that and they managed to do it on the road in an environment that hasn’t always been particularly friendly. Duke managed to take care of business in Blacksburg against Virginia Tech with relative ease 88 to 56 thanks in part to a hot shooting night from Seth Curry.
Curry who scored 21 points broke out of a Blacksburg slump of sorts. Curry whose parents both went and were star athletes at Virginia Tech, has never had a successful out shooting wise in his parent’s old stomping ground. That wasn’t the case on Thursday as the Blue Devil senior captain shot 43 percent from the floor and 83 percent (5 of 6) from beyond the arc, setting the pace early.
It was a game of improvements as Mason Plumlee who was just awful against Maryland last weekend had a much stronger outing. Plumlee who only mustered 4 points an 3 rebounds against the Terrapins, finished the game with 13 points and 12 rebounds.
Duke also got some solid play for the second straight game from Josh Hairston who scored 11 points and grabbed 3 rebounds. Hairston who has never been counted to contribute much has become more assertive and has played well in the process.
The victory was an important one for Duke as they looked to right the ship after the loss this past weekend and to build some confidence as the ACC season begins to wind down. Barring a complete meltdown by first place Miami, the Blue Devils likely are out of the race for the ACC regular season title and will have to settle for second. Still there is work to do and the schedule isn’t easy.
Moving forward Duke has Boston College at home before a tough road test at Virginia before the aforementioned Hurricanes come to Cameron for a game that has a little less luster to it thanks to Duke’s loss at Maryland.
The Blue Devils have to continue to play like they did against Virginia Tech and hope that they can win out to ensure a better seeding in the NCAA Tournament next month.
During that time they are also hoping to get senior captain Ryan Kelly back from his foot injury that has kept him out of action since early January. Kelly was in attendance at the Virginia Tech game and moving around in the all-too familiar walking boot, but with no crutches.
Reporters are that he has been doing some running in a pool and other rehab in preparation for a potential return, though there is no clear cut or definitive time table for a return.
If he is unable to return the play of guys like Hairston and Alex Murphy who has come on a bit stronger of late could help position Duke for a deeper run, however, any chance of a national title run may have been lost when Kelly went down with the injury.
Still there are a lot of positive to take away from the game in Blacksburg but like so often this season it isn’t worth getting too excited about unless they can start doing it more consistently.
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