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Cook, Blue Devils overcome VCU’s pressure, remain unbeaten
When you look at Duke’s previous championship teams, Bobby Hurley, Jason Williams and Jon Scheyer were the starting point guards for those squads. That’s why Quinn Cook is so important to this team — and that’s why Blue Devil fans should be encouraged after the sophomore point guard’s nine point, nine assist performance Friday night.
Cook connected on a plethora of impressive passes from full-court heaves to half-court dishes to set up his teammates in #5 Duke’s (5-0) 67-58 victory over VCU (3-2). He only turned the ball over three times against VCU’s full-court press while the rest of the team added just five more turnovers. VCU, who forced a talented Memphis squad into 22 turnovers and stole the ball 14 times, recorded just five steals against the Blue Devils. Duke did a great job of handling VCU’s pressure and even relied on Mason Plumlee to bring the ball up the court at times.
Plumlee posted another double-double, his third of the season, with 17 points and 10 rebounds. The senior power forward knocked down seven of his eight free throws, continuing his drastically improved free throw percentage in the young season. Plumlee is now 80% from the charity strike on the year while the Blue Devils made 24 out of 27 free throws in the win against VCU. Seth Curry, who was 9-for-10 from the line, chipped in 15 points and six rebounds.
Freshman shooting guard Rasheed Sulaimon turned in another good performance, showing the ability to knock down open threes and utilize the pump fake to get to the basket. Sulaimon tallied 12 points and seven rebounds, although he was just 4-for-12 from the field. On the defensive end, Ryan Kelly quietly had a very good game after blocking five shots and providing a nice inside presence for the Blue Devils. He also recorded 11 points to go along with four rebounds.
Duke faces one of the top teams in the country as they take on #2 Louisville (5-0) in the Battle 4 Atlantic Championship game tonight at 9:30pm (EST). The first pair of top-5 teams to square off this season, the match-up will be televised on NBC Sports. The Blue Devils will compete against another group of talented guards who play tenacious defense while also dealing with Louisville’s great interior depth and quality wings. The Cardinals will be a nice test for Duke as the Blue Devils try to remain undefeated in the first game that Coach K met Rick Pitino in since ‘The Shot’ in 1992.