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Duke Dunks Davidson 82-69

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by Jim Sumner

Davidson actually beat Mike Krzyzewski and Duke in December of 1981. That was back when Krzyzewski was still hunting his first 100 wins and lots of folks thought Tom Butters and Duke had made a huge mistake.

That was then, this is now. Duke's 82-69 win over Davidson was Duke's 23rd consecutive win over the Wildcats, a streak that even Stephen Curry couldn't derail.

Bob McKillop is one of the more respected coaches around. But he's not going to get Stephen Curry-like-talents very often and he certainly doesn't have any this season. What he does have is what he usually has, smart, disciplined, fundamentally-sound players who lack that last bit of athleticism but play hard and tough for 40 minutes.

Mike Krzyzewski says Davidson is a program not a team, one with continuity and character. "They believe they're supposed to win. They play as one."

. As Duke discovered from Belmont, experience and smarts can be a formidable combination.

It's eerie how much this team resembles Belmont, at least on paper. Four returning starters, over 80% of their scoring coming back, a couple of pre-season all-conference players, picked to win their division.

Then there's the context. Duke's fourth game in eight days, sandwiched between the record-setting trip to Madison Square and the pending trip to Maui, this game practically screamed "watch out." Trap-game 101.

And for much of the game, an upset seemed possible. To be candid, Duke was fortunate to be down only 35-34 at intermission, after a half that saw the Blue Devils miss half of its 14 foul shots, make only one 3-pointer and garner not a single second-chance point.

Krzyzewski said Duke didn't talk much on defense in the first half. "They had us on out heels. They were very determined. They knocked us back."

Ryan Kelly agreed. "We needed to pick it up. We knew our offense would come along. But it had to be defense first."

Austin Rivers, who scored 17 points, said Krzyzewski was on point during the intermission. "He always talks about people who stand outside in the freezing cold, waiting to see us play, and then for us to go in there and play like that in the first half, it wasn't acceptable. He just said that in the second half, we need to step up and that he believes in us. He gives us confidence and that's what we did--we stepped up for him."

The decisive break came about four minutes into the second half. Duke broke a 41-41 tie with a 12-0 run, in a span of barely three minutes.

And "run" is the correct term. Mason Plumlee started it with a monster slam follow, Duke's first second-chance points. Then he muscled inside for a basket, giving Duke its biggest lead, at 45-41.

Yes, it really was that close.

The highlight of the highlight-reel sequence came a few plays later, when Mason grabbed a defensive rebound and hit brother Miles with a long pass. Miles finished with a reverse dunk that brought down the house. It also gave Duke a 49-41 lead. Austin Rivers picked J.P. Kuhlman's pocket and converted at the other end. Then Miles Plumlee got a block, which Mason rebounded.

Even Krzyzewski was impressed. "It ignited the crowd. It was even and all of a sudden it was 10 points. That generated so much excitement."

Mason Plumlee had another stat-stuffer, 16 points, 13 rebounds, a steal and a couple of assists. It there was a stat for altered shots, he might have had a triple-double. Mason has 40 rebounds in Duke's first four games and is 20-for-31 from the field.

Duke also got a big lift from freshman guard Quinn Cook, who delivered a more-than-solid-9-point-performance, only three days after barely breaking a sweat against Michigan State.

Meanwhile, Andre Dawkins continued his roller-coaster ride, with a modest five-point game.

Krzyzewski said to expect that sort of thing for awhile. "We're going to have fluctuations. They don't know who they are yet."

Duke was unable to big leads against Belmont and Michigan State. There was much improvement this time around. After falling behind 53-41, with 12:52 left, Davidson never again cut the Duke lead into single digits.

Krzyzewski said he was especially pleased with how Duke maintained its composure after that 12-0 run.

Seth Curry matched Rivers with 17 points. He said Duke's second half was just the way to head into Maui.

"We were more alert, got used to what they were running, got some hands on the ball. They had more energy than us in the first half. In the second half, we played with more energy and imposed our will."


Ryan Kelly missed his first foul shots of the season, after starting 19-for-19.

Curry leads Duke with 63 points on the season, followed by Rivers, with 53 and Kelly with 51, Mason Plumlee with 49 and Dawkins with 41.

Duke is now 88-17 against Davidson and extended its winning streaks to 39 games in Cameron, 89 non-conference home wins, 59 against unranked teams, and 45 against non-BCS schools..[poll id="190"]

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