In the first exhibition game of the season, Duke basketball beat reigning Division II national champion Western Washington 105-87 at Cameron Indoor Stadium Saturday.
Here is your postgame breakdown…
Revisiting the three keys to the game.
- How does ‘Sheed handle the fire?—Starting in place of an injured Seth Curry, Rasheed Sulaimon answered that question early in the game. On the team’s first possession, he made a nice cut and layed the ball in, absorbing the contact. He finished the first half with a team-high 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting, making 2-of-3 from deep. He was quiet in the second half, taking just one shot, and finished with 20 points, three assists and two steals.
- Free Mason—Plumlee played a complete game, playing a team-high 33 minutes and accumulating 22 points and 11 rebounds. Taking advantage of a small Viking frontcourt whose tallest player is 6-foot-9, Plumlee helped Duke outrebound Western Washington 41-34. He was efficient on the offensive end making 8-of-14 shots but did not take gentle care of the ball with five turnovers.
- Let’s get Cook-in’—With the first dibs on the starting point guard job, Quinn Cook finished with 13 points, five rebounds and three assists. Cook effectively ran the offense with a focus on pushing the ball in transition. But he also turned the ball over six times, something that cannot become routine. He earned 32 minutes of duty, second most on the team, while Tyler Thornton played 24. With Curry’s injury, the duo was forced to share the court more often than they likely will during most of the season.
Three key plays of the game:
- 19:47 in the first half—On Duke’s first possession, Rasheed Sulaimon set the pace for the entire first half with a layup. Duke basketball head coach Krzyzewski praised Sulaimon’s read on the play, saying that he made a cut against the design of the play, but at the same time it was the same read on the defense.
- 3:50 in the first half—the Blue Devils built their biggest lead of the first half at 20 points after a Josh Hairston jumper. The stroke was immediately after Hairston took a charge, and Cameron Indoor Stadium got loud after the sequence. Hairston played 15 minutes and accumulated six points, going 4-of-4 from the line.
- 13:38 in the second half—After the Vikings had whittled down the lead to 11 points, the lowest total of the second half,Cook made a nifty move and nailed a 3-pointer, bringing the lead back up to 14. Cook was just 1-of-5 from deep, but that was a key make. The lead never got down to 11 again.
Three key stats of the game:
- Rasheed Sulaimon 6-of-9 from the field—All six of those makes came in the first half, and the key for him being so effective was that he did not force anything in the second half. With the offense being run much more through Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly in the final 20 minutes of play, Sulaimon displayed maturity and let the offense flow naturally without just trying to build on what could have been an even more impressive score total.
- Western Washington’s 18 offensive rebounds—Duke had 14 offensive rebounds on the afternoon, but allowing a small Viking frontcourt to pick up 18 offensive boards is not something the Blue Devils should look to replicate. Western Washington had 80 attempts from the field, 21 more than Duke.
- Duke’s 18 turnovers—This was a fast-paced game so handing the ball over a bit more than usual should be expected. But, then again, see the Vikings’ 80 field goal attempts. Eighteen turnovers—six from Cook and five from Plumlee—are too many.
And the Duke game ball goes too… ‘Sheed. Welcome to college hoops.
And the Western Washington game ball goes too… Paul Jones. The forward was a bright spot for the Vikings, making 10-of-17 shots for 20 points in just 25 minutes of play.
Surprise of the game… ‘Sheed. Again. Not that we did not know he was talented, but how quickly he was able to take over the game and the maturity he displayed was great for the Blue Devils.