Duke Wins Battle 4
In the most stacked field of any regular-season tournament this year, Duke emerged with the Battle 4 Atlantis Championship after defeating Minnesota (89-71), VCU (67-58) and No. 2 Louisville (76-71) in the Bahamas last week. The wins came over a three-day span in which sophomore point guard Quinn Cook averaged 6.3 assists and 13.7 points per game on the way to tournament MVP honors. Senior forward Mason Plumlee was also dominant in the post, averaging 17.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per game while posting double-doubles against VCU and Minnesota. The three victories give Duke 23 straight regular-season tournament wins, while the win over Louisville gives the Blue Devils its second top-three victory of the year.
Cook Named Battle
4 Atlantis Most Valuable Player
Sophomore point guard Quinn Cook was the Battle 4 Atlantis pick for tournament most valuable player, and rightly so as the 6-1 guard from Bowie, Md., was the director of a Duke offense that solved the tenacious defense of both VCU and Louisville on back-to-back nights. Cook recorded nine assists and nine points in a 67-58 win over VCU and followed by scoring 15 points with six assists in the Battle 4 Atlantis Championship win over No. 2 Louisville. Cook came up huge down the stretch against the Cardinals, scoring Duke's final six points within the last 1:15 of the game to keep Duke just ahead of a late Louisville comeback. Louisville trimmed the deficit to three points three times during that 1:15 span, but Cook responded with a field goal and four free throws to put back ahead by two possessions each time.
Since cracking the starting lineup four games ago, Cook is averaging 12.3 points and 7.0 assists per game, while the Blue Devils are averaging 80.0 points per game during that span. At least four Blue Devils have scored in double figures in all four of those games.
Shouldering the Load
Duke entered the 2012-13 season with plenty of experience in the form of seniors Seth Curry, Ryan Kelly and Mason Plumlee. So far, that trio has anchored the team as they combine to average 48.5 points per game, which is 62.0 percent of Duke's total scoring. All three have been consistent night-in and night-out, as they have combined to score no less than 42 points in all six games. They have all scored in double figures in all but one game.
Duke Faces Third
Top-Three Opponent Wednesday
Despite running through a three-day gauntlet at the Battle 4 Atlantis that included wins over presumed NCAA Tournament-bound Minnesota, VCU and No. 2 Louisville, the Blue Devils don't get a break in the schedule. Coming up on Wednesday will be Duke's third game against a top-three opponent when No. 3 Ohio State comes to Durham for a 9:30 p.m. tipoff in Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Buckeyes, who will be the second straight 2012 Final Four team that Duke will face, enter the primetime matchup 4-0 with wins over Albany (82-60), Rhode Island (69-58), Washington (77-66) and UMKC (91-45). The Blue Devils will need to contend with the duo of sharpshooting forward Deshaun Thomas, who averages 24.0 points and 7.3 rebounds per game, and point guard Aaron Craft, who averages 14.3 points per game to go with a 7.0:1 assist-to-turnover ratio and a defensive game that earned him Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors last season.
The game will air on ESPN and WatchESPN.com and can also be heard on the Blue Devil IMG Sports Network. It will be Duke's second 9:30 p.m. tipoff in a five-day span.
Duke Named Team of
Sunday's edition of the ESPN Pick 'n' Roll blog was very Duke-heavy, with the Blue Devils earning Team of the Week honors, Quinn Cook earning a spot in the Weekly Starting Five, Mason Plumlee also getting a nod for his performance at the Battle 4 Atlantis, and Wednesday's Duke-Ohio State matchup getting recognition as the biggest game to watch this week. To see the entire blog, follow the link:
Duke also received the same Team of the Week recognition from Dick Vitale in his Dickie V Weekly Awards.
Radio Show Starts
The Duke Basketball Radio Show with Chris Collins and Steve Wojciechowski hosts its 2012-13 debut at the Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club on the campus of Duke University this Tuesday from 7-8 p.m. The show airs live from the Bull Durham Bar on WDNC 620 The Buzz, and fans are invited to join the coaches on location at the Washington Duke Inn. Fans may submit questions for the show here: http://www.goduke.com//quest/Questionaire.dbml?\QID=73996&DB_OEM_ID=4200. Art Chase, a member of the Duke sports information office since 2000, will host the show alongside Collins and Wojciechowski.
Duke has faced two top-five teams this season and come away with wins both times, despite playing on a neutral court and as the lower-ranked team each time. On Nov. 13, Duke - ranked No. 9 at the time - gutted out a 75-68 win over No. 3 Kentucky in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. And last Saturday, Duke - ranked No. 5 - took down Louisville 76-71 to win the Battle 4 Atlantis Championships in the Bahamas. The two top-five wins gave Duke two such victories before the start of ACC play for only the second time in school history. The only other time that Duke took down two top-five teams before the start of conference play was in 1965-66 when the Blue Devils defeated No. 1 UCLA twice - in back-to-back days - and No. 3 Michigan 10 days later. Duke will have a chance to match that mark on Wednesday against No. 3 Ohio State.
The wins over Kentucky and Louisville also extended a streak of three consecutive wins over top-five teams. Only three other times in school history has Duke strung together four or more consecutive top-five victories.
Irving Out 4-6
Weeks with Broken Finger
Former Blue Devil and No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft Kyrie Irving looked ready to ascend to the elite ranks of the NBA through his first nine games this season, but his season will be put on hold temporarily while he recovers from a fractured finger. The injury happened on Nov. 18 against Philadelphia, and Irving actually returned to the game after it was originally ruled just a bruise. Upon further examination, however, it appears that Irving will be out 4-6 weeks which derails what was a dominant start for Irving who had scored in double figures in every game, save the one in which he suffered the injury. Irving is averaging 22.9 points, 5.6 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game.
Duke worthy of top spot after title down in Bahamas (CBS Sports)
Cook's fairy tale
ends with No. 5 Duke beating No. 2 Louisville (USA Today)
Becoming the Focal Point (Duke Chronicle)
Singler comes from
winning tradition (The Detroit News)
Small ball nets big
results for Miami's Battier, Bosh (Miami Herald)
Tweets of the Week
Great to be back in Durham! Hope our students & fans are ready to create an electric environment in Cameron Indoor this week!
Nolan D. Smith @NdotSmitty
Yessirrr RT @Casey_Peters: So great seeing my brothers this weekend. @KyleSingler @NdotSmitty pic.twitter.com/NejCwpXh
Dick Vitale @DickieV
Ranking Duke-who has a better early season ledger? W's away from Cameron over CATS - CARDS - VCU-MINNESOTA- Now home vs OSU -@steve_wojo
Andy Katz @ESPNAndyKatz
If you're watching this Duke-Louisville game you're seeing a Blue Devil growing up before your eyes in Quinn Cook.
Nate James @RealNateJames
Mission accomplished Blue Devil Nation! We're headed home Champions.Big time plays,Big time moments,Big time effort,Big time win! Very proud
Shane Battier @ShaneBattier
How many husbands are with me? Late night pots and pans. Haha. #unNBA http://t.co/xciXD3rg
Quinn Cook @QCook323
Love my team!! We came together this tournament and won three extremely tough games. Big game Wednesday ledeww! RiP DAD!