Typically when a player only attempts four shots, he doesn’t have much of an impact on a game.
Typically when you haven’t played a game in nearly two weeks and only practice once a week, it’s difficult to get into a rhythm.
Typically when you shoot just 33% from the three-point line, you don’t blow out opponents.
But this Duke (10-0) team isn’t typical. And neither was their 88-47 win over Cornell (4-7) Wednesday night.
Quinn Cook recorded a career-high 12 assists on a night where he scored just six points on four field goal attempts. He did a beautiful job of not only finding his open teammates but also creating scoring opportunities for other Blue Devils through penetrating. He also turned the ball over just once and tallied four rebounds and two steals in 26 minutes of play.
Seth Curry was simply lights out from all over the court between his 7-for-10 shooting from the field and 3-for-6 shooting from three-point land. He posted a game-high 20 points in just 23 minutes and oh by the way only practices about once a week. It’s incredible for a player to get into a rhythm so easily and so quickly without practicing much, but it’s unfortunately what Curry will likely have to do for the rest of the season with his injury not getting any better.
One thing that separates this Duke team from previously unsuccessful squads is their ability to win — and in this case win big — without shooting well from beyond the arc. The mantra ‘live by the three, die by the three’ has haunted the Blue Devils in recent years but it hasn’t been as much of a hindrance this year. If you look at Duke’s Nov. 24 76-71 win over Louisville (10-1), they shot just 25% from three. Although that’s just one example and the Blue Devils have shot 40% from beyond the arc on the season, it seems as though Duke lives less by that mantra than they did in previous years.
One big reason for their decreased reliance on the three is because of the emergence of National Player of the Year front runner, Mason Plumlee. He narrowly missed out on his fourth straight double-double, after recording 18 points and a team-high nine rebounds in 26 minutes and a perfect eight-for-eight shooting from the floor. Plumlee also recorded a team-high three blocks on a night that included seven blocks and 11 steals from Duke’s defense. The Blue Devils forced 25 turnovers and scored 35 points off turnovers.
Freshman star Rasheed Sulaimon posted a team-high three steals in addition to 16 points on 6-for-10 shooting. He was very disruptive on defense on a night where four Duke players tallied multiple steals and he finished well at the rim. Sulaimon missed just one shot inside the arc and knocked down all four free throws he attempted. Although one significant headline coming into Wednesday night was Marshall Plumlee playing in his first career game, the youngest Plumlee recorded just two minutes, one block and one rebound.
Duke will again be in action tomorrow night at 7pm on ESPNU. They take on Elon (6-4) as the Blue Devils attempt to win their 100th straight non-conference home game.