(Photo via wfmynews2.com
Chapel Hill, North Carolina was particularly quiet Wednesday night, after UNC played their hated rivals, Duke. Just 8 miles down 15-501, keg-stands were being made while the Duke Faithful celebrated a hard fought victory. Duke, with a 5-man rotation, beat the 8-point favorite Tar Heels 74-73. Duke’s big-3 had great performances; Ingram 20 points. 10 rebounds 4 assists, Allen 23 points 7 boards, plus Kennard had 15 points, while UNC relied almost entirely on Bryce Johnson in the paint. Duke shot 7-19 (36%) from beyond the arc, while UNC shot 1-13 (7%). Marcus Paige was nowhere to be found, while Marshall Plumlee quietly might have played the game of his career; a perfect 5-5 from the field, 11 pts, 7 rebounds, and 35 KEY minutes. Plumlee picked up back-to-back 3rd and 4th fouls at the 14:19 and 14:09 mark in the 2nd half, forcing him to sit on the already shortened bench. With 10:35 left in game, Plumlee came back in with 4 fouls and decided to sack up even more and shut down Bryce Johnson, holding him to only 2 points while Plumlee guarded him the rest of the game without fouling out. Brandon Ingram’s NBA stock continues to grow exponentially, making clutch shot after shot in the final minutes of the game, giving Duke a massive victory in the Dean Dome. Hopefully this win will boost the 6-man rotation while captains Amile Jefferson and Matt Jones are out for an unknown period of time.
Looking forward, Duke travels to the KFC Yum! Center to face #18 Louisville next. Duke beat them on February 2 in Cameron Indoor, but that was when they had Matt Jones. His absence from the team, no matter what length, will be a massive loss for the Blue Devils. Jones provides excellent perimeter defense and the ability to knock down contested jumpers. But most importantly, Jones has valuable experience being a junior, and he will be missed for as long as he’s out. Once Duke gets healthy, watch out America! Mike Krzyzewski has instilled effort and defense to the young and hungry Devils who are looking to go baaaaaack to back. After beating the 5th ranked team on the road, I believe that Duke can beat anyone come March, if they get Jefferson and Jones back and have them at full health. Kansas, Villanova, Maryland, Oklahoma: I do not care. The Devils can hang with anyone, and by now in the college basketball season, there is no one team standing a top the nation like Kentucky did last year. So one question, why pick against Coach K and the Dukies?
– R. Seaman