Free throws, free throws, free throws.
We’ve talked before about how important it is that Mason Plumlee has improved his free throw shooting this season, but the National Player of the Year candidate exemplified that in Duke’s (21-2, 8-2) 62-61 win over Boston College (10-13, 2-8) Feb. 10.
Plumlee, who shot 7-for-10 from the charity stripe, scored the final three points of the game, all off free throws. With less than 50 seconds left in the contest, Plumlee hit two free throws to tie the game and then hit the go-ahead free throw with 25 seconds left that ended up giving Duke the win. Plumlee, who is shooting over 65% from the charity stripe, had a lifetime average of about 50% his first three years in college.
The senior leader posted 19 points and a game-high 11 rebounds as the Blue Devils scored the last six points of the game in the final two minutes. After trailing for much of the first half, Duke led for most of the second half, but gave up a 10-1 run that turned a four point lead with six minutes left into a five point deficit with two minutes remaining.
Plumlee faced multiple defenders for much of the game whenever he touched the ball, but used four offensive rebounds to get himself involved on the offensive end. With Plumlee facing double- and triple-teams and the Blue Devils struggling shooting the ball, Duke used good defense and the charity stripe to get them their victory. The Blue Devils, who didn’t have a single player shoot above 50% from the field, forced Boston College into tough shots (particular at the end) and knocked down nearly 80% of their free throws.
Seth Curry helped carry the scoring load by adding in 18 points while chipping in four rebounds, three assists and two steals. He shot 6-for-12 from the field, including 2-for-6 from beyond the arc and 4-for-4 from the charity stripe, while breaking the record for the highest scoring brother duo in NCAA Division I history. Curry and his brother Stephen have combined for 4,492 points, overcoming the mark that Ben and Tyler Hansbrough set at 4,485.
Quinn Cook, who scored just nine points off 3-for-11 shooting and turned the ball over four times to just three assists, hit a huge three to cut Duke’s deficit to two points after Boston College’s aforementioned late run. Although he was too sloppy with the ball and didn’t create many scoring opportunities for other Blue Devils, he did hit a couple of big shots.
Tyler Thornton played 31 important minutes for Duke on the defensive end and Josh Hairston played nearly twice the minutes as Amile Jefferson did as the pair filled in the void Ryan Kelly has left. Freshman Rasheed Sulaimon scored four points off 1-for-6 shooting as he chipped in three rebounds, two assists and just one turnover. The Blue Devils shot 40% from the field, which included a 6-for-17 mark from beyond the arc.
Duke looks to build off their five-game win streak as they head back home Wednesday to Cameron Indoor Stadium to take on North Carolina (16-7, 6-4). The Blue Devils will face the Tar Heels at 9pm on ESPN.