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Jim Sumner On Duke-Princeton!

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The Duke-Princeton rivalry hasn't been much of a rivalry. Duke's 97-60 win last night left the tally 18 wins for Duke, one win for Princeton. The Princeton win came in Mike Krzyzewski's second season at Duke, a dismal 72-57 game.

But despite the one-sided nature of the series, there have been some memorable contests. Princeton was Duke's opponent on the January 6, 1940 game that christened Duke's brand new Indoor Stadium. Duke won 36-27.

Two decades later, Vic Bubas' first Duke team defeated Princeton 84-60 in the East Regional, Duke's first ever NCAA Tournament victory.

In December 1962, Bill Bradley's Princeton Tigers visited Duke and left an 85-74 loser. Bradley had committed to Duke before reneging at the last moment.

There wasn't much history made last night and certainly no payback. But the game did demonstrate a young team able to listen and learn from its mistakes.

Duke came into the Princeton game after an intense week of practice following a desultory exhibition performance against Cal Poly Pomona. Before the game Nolan Smith threw out the challenge. "All the fun is over. It's time to get to work. Scoring won't be a problem. But in order to run, you have to get rebounds, you have to get steals. Defense is definitely the focus of this team."

Seth Curry called the exhibition game "humbling. We're not anywhere near where we need to be defensively. You've got to stop people to win."

Princeton is the pre-season Ivy League favorites. A veteran team, they basically start two point guards. Yet Duke pressed the visitors way out of their comfort zone, forcing 27 turnovers, the most by Princeton since 28 against Maryland in 1998.

Princeton coach Sydney Johnson blamed this on Duke's press. "We threw the ball away a little too much. Their full-court pressure resulted in different guys handling the ball, guys not as comfortable with the ball in their hands. They had us playing faster than we wanted at times."

Duke also shook off the three-point blues. After shooting 2-15 against Cal Poly, Duke went 14-26 against Princeton, with six different players hitting from long range.

A successful press, a relentless transition attack and long-range bombing translates into soul-sapping runs. Duke had several.

The biggest came in the final minutes of the opening half. After falling behind 17-6, Princeton methodically worked its way back into the game. A three-pointer by T.J. Bray made it 34-28, with 1:44 left in the half. It appeared that Princeton had dodged an early knockout blow.

Nolan Smith answered with a three-pointer, assisted by Kyrie Irving; 1:23 left. Smith drew a charge on Ian Hummer. Kyle Singler hit another three. Miles Plumlee drew a charge on Drew Maddox. Smith missed a jumper but Irving was fouled on a put-back attempt. He made both foul shots and Duke went into the locker room up 42-28, a 8-0 run to close out the half.

Johnson noted that the back-to-back threes "really hurt us."

Princeton got no closer than 11 points in the second half. At 44-33 Mason Plumlee converted a three-point play inside, Irving hit from long range and the rout was on.

One sequence in the middle of the second half especially delighted the Crazies. Curry channeled his inner Jon Scheyer, drawing a foul on a three-pointer and converting all three freebies. That made the score 71-41. Then Andre Dawkins hit a three, then another, making the score 77-41, a 9-0 run in the space of 65 seconds.

All ten scholarship players played at least nine minutes and all scored. Curry and Dawkins came off the bench for 14 and 13 points respectively, going 6-9 from downtown. Krzyzewski was especially complimentary of Dawkins' defense on 6-8 Kareem Maddox, who scored six points and was hounded into seven turnovers.

It wasn't perfect. None of the bigs did much on the offensive end and Krzyzewski noted that Duke "had too much energy on the offensive end in the first half. We just wanted it so badly that I think we screwed up about five fast breaks."

I suspect Krzyzewski would rather have his team come out too fired up at the beginning than come out flat, as happened earlier this month. Energy plus talent plus coaching can take you a long way.

Johnson certainly was impressed. "I don't know how many teams are going to be able to play with Duke. There might be ten teams in the country that can handle all the things that they throw at you. So, good luck to those guys, because Duke's pretty good."

About that defense. Nolan Smith pronounced himself pleased. "We definitely played the defense we wanted to play."


Kyrie Irving struggled with his shot early, making only 1-7 in the first half. He made all three of his shots after intermission. But in a hectic, fast-paced contest, Irving posted nine assists, against a single turnover. Duke assisted on 26 of its 36 field goals.

Princeton left some points at the line. They shot 19 foul shots to only 12 for Duke. But the visitors missed 11 times from the line, Duke only once. It's tough to shoot much better than the 53.8 three-point percentage and 91.7 foul-shooting percentage posted by Duke.

The 97 points allowed by Princeton was the most since North Carolina beat them 103-76 back in 1968.

Krzyzewski called the Cameron Crazies "magnificent," especially the tribute to the late Drew Everson. Everson's parents visited the Duke locker room following the game.

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