Curry, Plumlee, Kelly lead Duke past Temple to 9-0
Already established as one of the nation’s top teams, No. 2 Duke showed mental toughness Saturday that left its Hall of Fame coach speaking in the best of terms.
The Blue Devils manhandled Temple 90-67 at the Izod Center, handing the Owls their first loss in a game that presented challenging circumstances for Duke.
The Blue Devils (9-0) played their first game in seven days as the team’s on-court schedule has lightened due to approaching final exams. They played a physically tough team coached by well-respected Fran Dunphy.
In a sign of its maturity, Duke got on top of the Owls by double-digits within the game’s first 10 minutes and never let Temple (6-1) get any closer than 10 the rest of the game.
“This team has the characteristic about it that the really good teams I’ve had had,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “And that is that they fight. They fight together. They don’t play. They compete and they fight. And that’s good. They have been a really good team to coach.”
As has been the case for most of Duke’s stellar start to the season, its seniors led the way. Guard Seth Curry, after sitting out the 88-50 win over Delaware on Dec. 1 due to ankle and shin issues, scored 23 points. He scored 13 in the second half.
Senior Mason Plumlee didn’t have his best game, making only 5 of 14 shots and 6 of 11 free throws. But the 6-11 center still notched his sixth double-double of the season with 16 points and 14 rebounds.
Senior forward Ryan Kelly added a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. With sophomore Quinn Cook scoring 14 points, four of Duke’s starters reached double figures.
Freshman guard Rasheed Sulaimon fell short with eight points, but he contributed in other ways, including seven assists and no turnovers.
As a team, Duke had 19 assists against only six turnovers in yet another sign of its mental toughness.
“I thought today was kind of, I guess you would call it a trap game,” Plumlee said. “It’s been a heck of a week (with academic demands). We didn’t play our best. But to come up here and perform and come out with a win is big.”
Even at less than its best — in Plumlee’s opinion — Duke played pretty well. The Blue Devils shot 51.9 percent in the first half, making 6 of 11 3-pointers, to take a 46-34 lead at intermission.
Duke finished shooting 47.5 percent, but hit 12 of 20 3-pointers, an impressive 60 percent.
The Blue Devils used an 11-2 run midway through the first half to take control of the game. Plumlee scored five points during the stretch, converting a shot inside off a nifty pass from Curry to put Duke ahead 24-12 with 10 minutes left in the half.
Reserves Tyler Thornton and Amile Jefferson had the other six points during that stretch.
After Duke pushed the lead to 29-14, Temple hit four 3-pointers over a three-minute stretch late in the half to trail 42-32.
But Duke fended the Owls off by scoring the last four points of the half.
Efforts like that proved to be present throughout the second half. When Temple cut the lead to 49-39, the Blue Devils scored six consecutive points.
After Duke’s lead first reached 20 points at 61-41, Temple climbed back to within 64-50 at 9:33.
But Kelly drilled 3-pointers on consecutive Duke possessions and Duke led 70-53 with 8:37 to play.
One final time, Temple trailed 72-60 before 11 consecutive Blue Devil points (seven from Curry) finished off the Owls.
“(Curry) is just tough enough to say, `You know what? I’m making this shot,’” Dunphy said. “As hard as it is to compete with the Duke team inside, today I just thought their guards just stepped up and made huge shots for them.”
During one ragged stretch of the second half, Krzyzewski called a timeout to angrily implore his team to fight more. The Blue Devils, of course, responded and handled Temple.
It’s what Krzyzewski has come to expect from this year’s Duke team.
“I’m proud of our guys,” Krzyzewski said. “You get away from it for a week. There’s a lot of academic stuff going on. You’re accustomed to playing almost every day with five games in 10 days and all of a sudden it’s a week (between games). I knew we’d have a few problems with that and with Temple and I’m real pleased with the win.”
NOTES—Duke redshirt freshman post player Marshall Plumlee participated in pre-game warm-ups and was in uniform for the first time this season. Krzyzewski said Plumlee, who has been out with a stress fracture, could have played against Temple. Krzyzewski said he’s be surprised if the 7-foot Plumlee doesn’t play in Duke’s next two games. ... The youngest of Duke’s three basketball Plumlees (Miles is now in the NBA), Marshall is a former McDonalds All-America ... Duke is 20-1 in games played at the Izod Center ... The Blue Devils have started the season 9-0 for the third time in the last six years and the second time in the last three seasons ... Duke is off until a Dec. 19 home game with Cornell.
No. 2 DUKE 90, TEMPLE 67
Percentages: FG .397, FT .250. 3-Point Goals: 8-21, .381 (DeCosey 3-3, Pepper 2-4, DiLeo 1-1, Cummings 1-2, O’Brien 1-4, Randall 0-3, Wyatt 0-4). Team Rebounds: 4. Blocked Shots: 4 (Hollis-Jefferson 3, Randall). Turnovers: 10 (Hollis-Jefferson 3, Pepper, DeCosey, Lee, Cummings, Dingle, DiLeo, Wyatt). Steals: 3 (Hollis-Jefferson 2, Pepper). Technical Fouls: None.
Percentages: FG .475, FT .759. 3-Point Goals: 12-20, .600 (Curry 5-9, Cook 3-4, Murphy 1-1, Sulaimon 1-2, Kelly 1-2, Thornton 1-2). Team Rebounds: 2. Blocked Shots: 2 (Jefferson, Kelly). Turnovers: 6 (Mas. Plumlee 2, Cook 2, Curry, Kelly). Steals: 6 (Cook 3, Thornton 2, Sulaimon). Technical Fouls: None. Temple3235—67 Duke4644—90 A—12,157. Officials—Karl Hess, Joe Lindsay, Bryan Kersey.