Happy College Basketball Season!
Duke came out sluggish to start, but it was expected considering it was their first game of the season. Georgia State switched defenses throughout the first half, mainly playing some sort of zone, which gave Duke fits.
It wasn’t until there were about five minutes left in the first half when Duke started to pull away. That stretchcarried into the second half, which did in Georgia State. Duke also attacked the zone better to start the second half.
The Blue Devils led 32-22 at the half, with 21 of their points coming from their three seniors: Mason Plumlee, Seth Curry, and Ryan Kelly.
But it was really the Mason Plumlee show.
Despite the fact that he STILL has problems at the free throw line (just 3-of-7), he had a great game. He scored 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting and hauled in 14 rebounds (he was one rebound shy of a double-double at the half). That is the type of night Duke will need to win the ACC and go deep into the NCAA Tournament.
Curry, who hasn’t practiced much so far this season due to a leg injury, played thirty minutes and looked good. He scored 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting (3-of-7 from three point land). Kelly picked up four assists, with some great passes to Plumlee inside. He also scored eight points on 2-of-6 shooting.
Tyler Thornton got the start at the point guard position, which was a surprise. Quinn Cook was expected to be the starter (but things change throughout a season). Anyway, Thornton scored 13 points on 4-of-7 shooting. The shocking part of his night was that he went 3-of-6 from beyond the arc.
Duke only played eight players, seven of which played at least ten minutes. Cook came off the bench and scored eight points on 2-of-4 shooting.
It was a tough first game for the freshmen duo. Rasheed Sulaimon started his first game of his career, but was in foul trouble throughout (he committed his third foul with 19:14 to go in the game). He went 2-for-5 from the field for six points. He did haul in four rebounds and dish out four assists, compared to just one turnover. Amile Jefferson came off the bench and scored just five points in 13 minutes. He contributed two rebounds.
Alex Murphy was expected to fill the role of Kyle Singler this season, but did not play in the game.
The negative for Duke was the turnovers, as they committed 15 of them. Six came from their point guard duo (Thornton had four). They also were out-rebounded 31-30.
RJ Hunter, a freshman for Georgia State who decided to play for his dad instead of heading to a more powerful school, scored 14 points in his first collegiate game. However, he had to work hard for those points, as he went just 4-for-11 from the field. He did haul in ten rebounds.
*Next up for the Blue Devils, a matchup with defending national champion and number 3 ranked Kentucky on Tuesday night at the Champions Classic in Atlanta. Kentucky, and their revamped team from a season ago, is currently in the second half against Maryland, leading by just four points with ten minutes to go.