Duke and Elon played a game in Greensboro Tuesday, and while it wasn't quite as one-sided as Southern's ridiculous win over Championship Baptist Monday, it was still a pretty dominant performance.
Andre Dawkins led the way with 15 points and Rodney Hood added 13. Jabari Parker had a season low with 12, not that it mattered.
It was a team performance from start to end.
Duke set out to wear down Elon, and did it. The Devils held the Phoenix to just 35.2% from the floor and forced 22 turnovers. We like to add turnovers to shot totals because they are shots denied. Using that, Elon goes from 19-54 to 19-76.
That's imperfect obviously because who knows how many of those shots might have gone in? Still, it's revealing. This is too: with the improvement shown by Dawkins, Rasheed Sulaimon and Amile Jefferson, Duke has eight guys capable of starting - and Marshall Plumlee is not that far away either.
Here's what you need to keep in mind about Plumlee: all he needs to do, currently, is to defend inside and rebound. As his conditioning and stamina improve (he had serious foot problems for his first two years at Duke), so does his confidence. Plumlee is now moving well, becoming a reliable rebounder and an opportunistic shotblocker. That puppy-like play we saw earlier? It's receding. Now we're seeing what Clif Ellis would call an agile, hostile and mobile center.
And that's where he parts company with his brothers. The elder Plumlees came to Duke thinking of themselves as forwards. Marshall is post. Period. And he's getting better really fast.
As for Dawkins, he's always been able to shoot. Now his conditioning is much better, his defense is signficantly improved, and needless to say, his heart is back in basketball.
Check out his three point shooting for example. Overall, Dawkins is hitting 48%.
Lately though? This is amazing: since the Arizona game, Dawkins is shooting 61.1% from three point range.
Toss out UCLA (1-5), and that goes up to a freakish 67%.
Read that again and think about it.
Since the Michigan game, Jefferson has played 91 minutes and pulled in 43 rebounds. That works out to a rebound every 2.1 minutes.
Seriously? That's really impressive.
Sulaimon is harder to quantify statistically because a lot of his value is on defense, but even so, since the UCLA game, he's shooting 56.2%.
Also since UCLA, he's had 32 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists, and just four turnovers in 60 minutes of playing time.
What we're getting at here, if it's not pretty clear already, is that Duke is developing the sort of depth any coach would kill for. A guy coming off the bench and hitting nearly 50% from threes? A guy getting a rebound every two minutes? A top-rate defender who's contributing offensively in a big way? And a young big man who's beginning to show serious potential?
That puts Matt Jones and Semi Ojeleye at the end of the rotation, but it wouldn't surprise us at all if either one moved up. Jones is a terrific defender and Ojeyele's athleticism is off the charts.
Bottom line: Duke could be about to get much, much better.
The ACC season kicks off for Duke a good way from the Atlantic coast, on Saturday at Notre Dame. By the time that's over, we'll know a lot more about this team's progress.