In a matchup that many thought would give the Duke men’s basketball team trouble did not on Thanksgiving afternoon. The Blue Devils never trailed, as they beat Minnesota in their first game in the Battle 4 Atlantis, 89-71. In the second half, Duke led by no less than 11 points.
The Blue Devils have now moved their regular season tournament winning streak to 21 games.
Minnesota was 4-0 and had held their previous opponents to 28.6% shooting and just 19.1% from beyond the arc. That changed on Thanksgiving. Duke shot 54.5% from the field (30-for-55) and made 8-of-10 three pointers.
The Duke starters scored all but two of their 89 points. It was another career game for Mason Plumlee, who has been dominating so far in his senior season. He scored 20 points on 6-of-11 shooting. He also made 8-of-10 free throws. The career-high came in rebounds, as he hauled in 17 of them. Mason had a double-double at the half (10 points and 11 rebounds).
Senior guard Seth Curry seems to be feeling alright so far this season. He lit Minnesota up for a game-high 25 points on 8-of-11 shooting. He made all three of his three point attempts. Fellow senior Ryan Kelly still seems to be struggling a bit with his shooting (maybe because he is taking way too many outside shots?), still scored 14 points (5-of-10). He hauled in six rebounds and blocked three shots.
Quinn Cook had himself a career day by scoring 17 points on 6-of-13 shooting. He dished out four assists, had five steals, and hauled in three rebounds. The only negative was the turnovers: he had four of them. Freshman Rasheed Sulaimon was the last Blue Devil starter into double-figures and he finished with 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting.
The other two points came from freshman Amile Jefferson (who went 1-for-2 from the field).
There were two negatives to the game for Duke: turnovers and rebounding. Duke turned the ball over 14 times, eight coming from their two point guards. When Tyler Thornton entered the game in the first half, he committed two turnovers in a thirty second span. Despite the fact that Mason had a career-high in rebounds, they were out-rebounded by Minnesota, 31-34. The Gophers also had 16 offensive boards.
One of the players to watch in this regular season tournament was Minnesota’s Trevor Mbakwe. However, he did not start and went just 3-of-6 from the field for 11 points (he had just two points at the half).
Duke now awaits the winner of Memphis-VCU for tomorrow night. That’s a quick turnaround and they most likely are going to face a very athletic team.