The Duke men’s basketball team evened the ACC/Big Ten Challenge with a 73-68 victory over visiting Ohio State. If you watched the first half and turned the game off, then the final score definitely surprised you. The Blue Devils extended their non-conference home court winning streak to 97 games.
After playing their fourth game in seven days, the Blue Devils played the first half a bit like they were sleep-walking…except for Mason Plumlee. He had ten points and eight rebounds in the first half.
Ryan Kelly was effective when he was actually on the court (seven points), but he picked up his second foul with 14:16 to go.
The OSU defense flustered the Duke guards. Anyone not named Plumlee or Kelly did close to nothing in the first half. The other six players scored a total of eight points in the first half.
Duke did not record a field goal over ten minutes in the first half. With about four minutes left, Josh Hairston had a put back for their first bucket. It’s no surprise that Duke trailed 31-23 at the half (that’s less points in the first half than in last season’s blowout loss). To be a fly on the wall for Coach K’s halftime speech.
The Blue Devils came out a different team in the second half and played much better defense (except in the final minute of the game). They also had a few players STEP up.
With less than six minutes to go, Duke tied the game at 53-53 on a Kelly three pointer. They took their first lead since EARLY in the first half (when it was 9-7) at 56-53 on another Kelly three pointer (he only made three 3-pointers in the game) with 5:30 to go.
They never relinquished the lead (though it got a little shaky at the end). Duke out-scored OSU in the second half 50-37 and shot 58% from the field, including 4-for-5 from behind the arc.
I’m guessing the coaching staff will discuss how to finish out games with a lead without fouling, with a emphasis on their two seniors (ie Mason and Kelly, who committed three fouls in the final minute).
And now to those players…