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Duke Blows Past Florida Gulf Coast, 88-67

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It's pretty common to see a sporting event described as a tale of two halves. But Duke's 88-67 win over Florida Gulf Coast can more properly be described as a tale of three thirds. Florida Gulf Coast came into Cameron fresh off a win over presumed ACC contender Miami. They played Duke even in the first third of the game and even in the final third. But, oh that middle third. As far as I know, no one keeps records on this sort of thing. But I can't recall ever seeing a 30-0 run, at least in a men's D-1 game.

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Filip Cvjeticanin-he's from Croatia-hit a 3 to put FGCU up 30-29, with 5:43 left in the first half. By the time the Panthers scored again, two minutes into the second half, it was 59-30 Duke. The blitz took all of 7:43, spread over two halves. Prior to that, the game had the trappings of Upset Alert. Scheduled between high-profile trips to Atlanta and the Bahamas, FGCU was the kind of game that casual fans might view as a speed bump. And Ryan Kelly did say that Duke was complacent out of the blocks.

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But FGU was doing all of the things mid-majors have to do to hang with the big boys. They were hitting 3s and crashing the boards. Mike Krzyzewski said Duke was surprised at how quickly FGU pushed the ball up the court, several times catching Duke napping.

On the other end of the floor, their matchup zone kept the ball away from Duke's bigs.

Duke made some changes. "There's space and then there isn't," Krzyzewski said of their zone." Going to a high ball-screen gave us a window."

Duke tightened up on defense and started crashing the boards. Kelly had a marvelous ninety-second stretch in which he assisted on a Quinn-Cook 3-pointer, made two foul shots, stole the ball, made a 3-point play off an offensive rebound and scored again off an offensive rebound.

By this point Duke was up 40-30. Rasheed Sulaimon and Tyler Thornton hit back-to-back 3s and the rout was on.

"During that one stretch we got stops, didn't let them get offensive rebounds," Kelly said of the run. "It started on the defensive end. I needed to be aggressive, especially on the offensive glass. That's really what got me going."

It was 52-30 after a single half, one in which Duke forced 19 turnovers.

Duke experimented with different looks after that, extending the lead to 29, keeping the margin in the 25-29-point range until the visitors scored the final six points.

FGU fought to the very end. Bernard Thompson hit 6-of-8 from downtown, scoring 24 points. Krzyzewski called him a "terrific player" with "range way more than we had seen on tape."

But Duke did a superb job on Brett Comer, the Atlantic Sun's assist leader last season. Comer had eight assists and no turnovers against Miami, three assists and five turnovers against Duke.

Much of the credit goes to Quinn Cook, a player not heretofore known for his defense. "I just wanted to put good pressure on the basketball, make the point guard uncomfortable," Cook said. " Comer makes that team go. So, if you make him uncomfortable, they struggle."

FGU had no answer for Plumlee inside. Once Duke started getting the ball to the big senior, it was all over. Plumlee had a career-high 28 points, with remarkable efficiency, 9-11 from the field, 10-11 from the line.

Plumlee played 35 minutes without committing a personal foul, a welcome contrast to the Kentucky game, where a couple of silly fouls benched him for much of the second half.

Krzyzewski noted that many of his best players have played 35 or more minutes on a regular basis and suggested that we should expect to see more of the same for Plumlee.

Plumlee says he loves being the focus of the offense. "I feel like I'm going to make the right play. I'm going to find guys if they're open, get guys open shots, because if I'm able to demand attention down low, it will open up shots for our shooters and we have shooters."

Rasheed Sulaimon added a career-high 19 points, Cook a career-high-tying nine assists. Kelly (14) and Seth Curry (10) also scored in double figures, while Alex Murphy finally worked up a sweat in six minutes of play.

Plumlee and Kelly each grabbed nine rebounds. " I felt a couple of guys blocking me out every time I went to the boards," Plumlee said. "But that freed it up for other guys to go to the boards. Ryan had a great game inside."


After three games, Plumlee has made 24-of-31 from the field, 17-22 from the line. 65 points on 53 shots.

Speaking of Plumlees, Marshall still is still wearing his boot. He says there's no firm time-line for his return. But he is making the trip to the Bahamas.

Seth Curry continues to practice sparingly. Three games in three games next week could get interesting.

FGU head coach Andy Enfield is a former Florida State assistant. He played at Johns Hopkins, where he made 92.5 percent of his foul shots. He's the NCAA career-leader in foul-shooting percentage.