The Duke men’s basketball team enjoyed their Thanksgiving trip to the Bahamas, as they will be heading back to Durham with a championship title. The Blue Devils beat number 2 Louisville, 76-71 in the Battle 4 Atlantis title game. They have now won 23 straight regular season tournament games.
The Blue Devils overcame their foul trouble from their two big men and held on for the victory, even after Ryan Kelly fouled out with one minute to go. He went to the bench with 14 points, six rebounds, and four assists.
Louisville tied the game at 56-56 with 10:13 to go and took their first lead since the early going with 8:19 to go (59-58). From then on, it was a back-and-forth affair.
Guard Quinn Cook stepped up when the Blue Devils needed him the most. Coach K had been impressed with his play over the last two games, so much so that Tyler Thornton had barely played in the Bahamas. Cook struggled with his shot on Saturday and committed four turnovers over the first 3/4 of the game. But he came up big late.
With Duke clinging to a two point lead with just over a minute to play, Cook hit a layup to give them a four point lead (70-66). He added a jumper with 29 seconds to play to give Duke a three point lead (72-67).
Cook really came up big at the free throw line, as he made all six of his attempts. Four of those came in the game’s final 13 seconds. In the end, 11 of his 15 points came in the game’s final 7:46. He also dished out six assists and hauled in four rebounds.
Mason Plumlee had his typical game: 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting with seven rebounds. Rasheed Sulaimon helped carry Duke in the first half, as they carried a 36-28 halftime lead. He scored 11 of his 14 points in the first half. Seth Curry had a rough shooting night (3-of-11), but he scored 14 points by going 6-for-6 from the free throw line.
In the loss for Louisville, Peyton Siva led all scorers with 19 points, but was 8-of-15 from the field. He also had six turnovers. Russ Smith scored 17 points on 7-of-19 shooting and seven rebounds. He had four turnovers.
Duke was once again beat on the boards. Louisville out-rebounded them, 37-31, with 13 coming on the offensive end. The Blue Devils won the battle at the free throw line, as they made more (23) than the Cardinals attempted (14).
*Duke now returns home to Cameron where it doesn’t get any easier. The Blue Devils welcome number 3 Ohio State to town for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Wednesday night. The Buckeyes will probably be the new number 2 when they face off. Last season, the two teams met in Columbus and Duke was pummeled, 85-63.