Yikes. After a tough first few minutes, Duke managed to turn their play around and hang a big win on a scrappy Florida Gulf Coast team behind 28 points from Mason Plumlee, taking the win 88-67 at Cameron Indoor.
In a true exhibition of just how much basketball is based on making runs, Duke overcame an early run by the visitors to pile on the points. Trailing 30-29 at the 5:43 mark of the first half, Duke went on a 23-0 run to finish the half off and take a 52-30 lead into the break, effectively ending any hopes of an upset on this day.
It started with a three-pointer by Quinn Cook (8 points, 9 assists) and was punctuated by an offensive rebound and basket by the Blue Devils point guard who got his first start of the season on Sunday night. Ryan Kelly (14 points, 9 rebounds) scored seven points during that span, including a big three-point play that stretched the lead to eight.
The Eagles were paced by star guard Bernard Thompson, who scored 11 of his team-high 24 points in the first half prior to Duke’s big run. Thompson was a killer in the early going, knocking down a trio of threes and making the defense pay for leaving him alone.
All in all, a solid home win for Duke who did what had to be done in dispatching a weaker non-conference opponent. On the horizon now is the Battle for Atlantis in the Bahamas where they face Minnesota on Wednesday.
Still No Sign of Alex Murphy
Well, this isn’t 100 percent true — Murphy did play six minutes in the win. But it has to be concerning that even in a game Duke is controlling, Murphy can’t find a way to do much of anything on the court.
Murphy posted an unassuming line: six minutes, 0-for-2 from the field, 0-1 from 3, two rebounds, one turnover. In a bigger game where those six minutes are used to spell someone those numbers are acceptable, but not in a blowout win over a weak opponent.
At some point, something will come out about why Mike Krzyzewski isn’t such a big fan of Murphy. Until then, all we can do is wonder where things went so wrong.
Points off Turnovers Make a Difference
The Duke defense appears to be back in full effect. In the first half alone, the Blue Devils managed to net 27 points off a staggering 19 (!!!) turnovers. When you are trying to go on the road and take on a team like Duke, the last thing you can afford to do is give them free points in the early going.
At game’s end, FGCU turned the ball over 25 times which led to 36 Duke points. Kelly, Tyler Thornton and Amile Jefferson all finished the game with two steals while Cook, Rasheed Sulaimon and Seth Curry had one each.