Facing off against Georgia State’s unusual strategies, Duke basketball worked its way to a 74-55 victory in its season opener at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Here is your postgame breakdown…
Revisiting the three keys to the game:
- Is ‘Sheed ready for the starting role?—Sulaimon was the first to put Duke on the scoreboard, but did not tally many points after that. Regardless, he saw a similar amount of court time as in the preseason games, and shows promise for the rest of the season.
- Can Mason dominate the boards?—Yes he can. Plumlee recorded three offensive and 11 defensive rebounds—the most on the team by a long shot. In his 35 minutes of playing time, Plumlee also managed to rack up the most points on the team, with 19 tallies.
- What will the rotation be like?—Playing against an unconventional foe also means using an unconventional rotation. Thornton and Cook saw some mutual court time, and Krzyzewski also utilized a Thornton in a three-guard set alongside Seth Curry and Sulaimon. The taller than 6-foot-8 crowd had a strong presence as well, with freshman Amile Jefferson playing the small forward position.
Three key plays of the game
- 18:50, first half: After R.J. Hunter stole the ball from Duke early in the game and earned Georgia State’s first points, Blue Devil freshman Rasheed Sulaimon got the scoreboard rolling with a three pointer. Although the field goal comprised half of Sulaimon’s six points earned during 30 minutes of play, he brought the first defensive floor slap of the season, and certainly knew how to rile up the Cameron Crazies.
- 10:19, first half: Despite Mason Plumlee’s historical problems on the free-throw line, he made both shots after being fouled by GSU’s T.J. Shipes. Plumlee returned to his old habits, going just 3-of-7 the entire game.
- 2:46, second half: Thornton put up a three-point field goal, and the offense set up Plumlee for an easy dunk that brought the game to its final score of 74-55. The Blue Devils recorded 33 of their points from beyond the arc.
Three key stats of the game:
- Duke 11-of-24 from 3-point range. Although the Blue Devils weren’t stellar in beyond the arc, this is drastically better than Nov. 2′s matchup against Winston-Salem State in which Duke went 1-of-17. Seth Curry and Tyler Thornton tallied the most shots on the squad, but there is still room for improvement.
- Freshmen Sulaimon and Jefferson combining for 11 points and six rebounds. The pair of freshmen are adapting quickly, and were enthusiastic on the court against Georgia State. Krzyzewski may rely on their exuberance—especially after getting the ball—Tuesday against Kentucky.
- Seven Blue Devils scored at least five points. Plumlee, Kelly, Thornton, Sulaimon, Curry and Cook all played more than 20 minutes, scoring more than six points apiece. Although Duke may not dominate other teams to the same extent, the Blue Devils showed promising performances.
And the Duke game ball goes to… Tyler Thornton. During his 30 minutes on the court, Thornton led the Blue Devils defensively, scored 13 points and tallied three assists. His ability to play in a number of different lineups will allow Krzyzewski to utilize several new strategies throughout the season.
And the Georgia State game ball goes to … R.J. Hunter. Hunter was the second highest scorer for the Panthers, with 14 points throughout his 35 minutes of playing time. Not only did he power the team offensively, but he also secured 10 defensive rebounds—the most by far on the team. This multifaceted player could earn respect in Coack K’s book.