Plumlee’s 32 power Devils past Deacs
In a college basketball season where even the best teams are forced the slug their way through conference play, Duke’s seniors provided the important blows on Wednesday night.
Seth Curry’s 3-pointer broke a late tie and Mason Plumlee’s final basket of a 32-point night kept Duke comfortably ahead, as the No. 5 Blue Devils beat Wake Forest 75-70 in ACC basketball at Joel Coliseum.
The Blue Devils (18-2, 5-2 ACC) collected their first road win of the season by showing poise down the stretch against a Wake Forest team that had yet to lose an ACC contest on its home court.
Curry, who scored 21 points, had missed all five of his 3-point attempts over the game’s first 37 minutes. That included a pair of misses when Duke held a 63-61 lead at the five-minute mark.
“Those have been shots that our program has hit,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “When you miss that, psychologically it can hurt us. Instead he came back and hit that (3-pointer) that put us up.”
Curry’s redemptive shot came when the game was tied 66-all. On Wake Forest’s previous possession, Duke’s Josh Hairston blocked C.J. Harris’ driving shot in the lane.
With 2:57 to play, Curry drilled his lone 3-pointer of the night, putting Duke in front for good at 69-66.
“They sort of packed it in (defensively) late in the game because Mason was really hurting them,” Curry said. “I was able to get some good looks.”
Plumlee’s best scoring night of his four years in a Duke uniform forced Wake Forest (10-10, 3-5) to pay more attention to him as the game went on. He scored 19 points in the first half.
After Curry’s 3-pointer put Duke in front, the Blue Devils had a chance to extend the lead after a Wake Forest turnover. Curry missed a short jumper which freshman Rasheed Sulaimon rebounded to extend the possession. But Duke, which made only 2 of 14 shots from 3-point range (14.3 percent), came up empty when Sulaimon missed an open shot from outside the arc.
Madison Jones drove to the basket and converted a bank shot with 1:40 left slicing Duke’s lead to 69-68.
But Duke found Plumlee inside, and he bulled his way past Wake Forest freshman Devin Thomas to score with 1:14 left for a 71-68 Duke lead.
“Mason was amazing tonight, with his presence in addition to 32 points,” Krzyzewski said.
Wake Forest’s final chance to tie the game went awry when Arnaud Adad Moto missed an open 3-pointer on the wing with 1:04 to play. Sulaimon grabbed the rebound and, after Duke worked the clock down, he sank a 17-foot jumper with 29 seconds left extending Duke’s lead to a comfortable 73-68.
When Plumlee blocked Harris’ layup attempt with 22 seconds left and Hairston grabbed the rebound, the Blue Devils were set up to survive.
“This is our first road win and that first road win feels so good, especially for the young guys to get them comfortable,” Plumlee said. “It was a tight one. It wasn’t a blowout, so I thought it was a really good game for us.”
It was far better than one week earlier, when Duke was trounced 90-63 at Miami. Combined with Duke’s 84-76 loss at N.C. State earlier this month, the Blue Devils were showing weakness away from Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Scoring 54 of Duke’s 75 points, Plumlee and Curry helped stop that trend.
“We had guys step up,” Plumlee said. “Guys made big plays. We have been in those late-game situations. Being in this situation on the road will benefit us going forward.”
Duke shot 51.9 percent, its second consecutive game shooting better than 50 percent after that woeful 29.7 percent shooting night at Miami. Plumlee was responsible for the bulk of the good shooting, making 12 of 15 shots.
Curry didn’t have his best shooting night as evidenced by his 1-of-6 from 3-point range. He made 7 of 17 overall, but his 3-pointer that put Duke ahead for good showed his moxie.
“Mason and Seth have been in a lot of big games,” Krzyzewski said. “This was a big game, every one of them are, and they were able to come through.”
No. 5 Duke 75, Wake Forest 70
Percentages: FG .519, FT .773. 3-Point Goals: 2-14, .143 (Cook 1-5, Curry 1-6, Thornton 0-1, Sulaimon 0-2). Team Rebounds: 2. Blocked Shots: 4 (Mas. Plumlee 2, Hairston, Curry). Turnovers: 15 (Mas. Plumlee 7, Cook 3, Hairston, Jefferson, Mar. Plumlee, Sulaimon, Curry). Steals: 5 (Mas. Plumlee 2, Murphy, Jefferson, Cook).
Percentages: FG .481, FT .810. 3-Point Goals: 3-11, .273 (McKie 2-4, Cavanaugh 1-2, Miller-McIntyre 0-1, Adala Moto 0-1, Fischer 0-1, Harris 0-2). Team Rebounds: 4. Blocked Shots: 3 (McKie 2, Rountree III). Turnovers: 17 (Harris 5, Cavanaugh 3, Miller-McIntyre 3, Jones 3, Thomas 2, Rountree III). Steals: 4 (Jones 2, Cavanaugh, McKie).
A—12,603. Officials—Mike Eades, Tim Nestor, Tim Kelly.