Duke With Big Week Ahead The Blue Devils, 24-3 overall and 11-3 in the ACC, have a challenging week ahead with a trip to Virginia on Thursday (9 p.m. - ESPN) and a home contest against Miami on Saturday (6 p.m. - ESPN). The Hurricanes hold the top spot in the ACC standings with Virginia sitting in third place behind Duke.
Virginia (19-8, 9-5 ACC) enters the week as one of the hottest teams in the league. The Cavaliers are led by ACC Player of the Year candidate Joe Harris and upperclassmen Akil Mitchell and Jontel Evans. Virginia and head coach Tony Bennett have a hard-nosed defensive approach and have also shown the ability to score in bunches. Duke's trip to Charlottesville is the only scheduled meeting between the two schools this season.
Miami, ranked No. 2 in last week's AP and Coaches Polls, is coming off its first loss in ACC play on Saturday at Wake Forest. Despite the loss, the Hurricanes have a two-game lead over the Blue Devils with four games remaining in league play. Miami boasts a veteran lineup as five of its top six players are actually older than former Blue Devil and two-year NBA veteran Kyrie Irving. The Hurricanes handed a cold-shooting Duke team a 90-63 loss on Jan. 23.
The Virginia/Miami contests will essentially mirror NCAA Tournament play with Duke having just one day to prepare between contests. This will mark the second straight week that the Blue Devils will play a Thursday road contest before returning home for a weekend tilt at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Blue Devils Bounce Back With Two Impressive Wins Duke rebounded from its road loss at Maryland on Feb. 16 with a pair of dominating performances last week. In Thursday's road win over Virginia Tech, Duke shot 60.0 percent in the opening half to jump out to a 20-point halftime lead. Seth Curry netted 19 of his 22 points in the opening half of play and Mason Plumlee added 13 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and three steals in an 88-56 victory. Rasheed Sulaimon (17) and Josh Hairston (11) also scored in double figures.
The Blue Devils topped Thursday's first half shooting barrage by knocking down 18-of-29 (.621) field goal attempts en route to a 51-27 lead at the half on Sunday against Boston College. The 24-point halftime lead is the largest of the season for Duke. Sulaimon finished the game with a season-high 27 points (10-of-15 shooting) to lead four double figure scorers. Plumlee added 19 points, 15 rebounds and four assists, while Amile Jefferson also had a career-best 14 points.
Sulaimon averaged 22.0 points per game for the week, while shooting 17-of-26 from the field, including 6-of-9 from three-point range. Plumlee delivered 16.0 points, 13.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.0 blocks per game in the pair of wins.
Coach K Passes Rupp; Smith Next Head coach Mike Krzyzewski ran his win total to 878 career wins at Duke to move past Kentucky's Adolph Rupp and into third place for most wins at one school. Next up on the list is former cross-town rival Dean Smith (North Carolina). Krzyzewski is one league win shy over his 400th career ACC victory.
Plumlee Repeats as Academic All-America Mason Plumlee was selected as an Academic All-America for the second straight year last Wednesday. A psychology major who carries a 3.36 GPA, the senior forward is the fourth Blue Devil player to earn the academic honor in consecutive seasons. Plumlee joins Mike Gminski (1978-79), Jim Spanarkel (1978-79) and Shane Battier (2000-01) as Duke’s other two-time first team Academic All-Americas.
Joining Plumlee on this year’s first team are Aaron Craft of Ohio State, Kelly Olynyk of Gonzaga, Matthew Sullivan of Brown and Cody Zeller of Indiana. The five members of the Academic All-America first team have an average GPA of 3.65.
Duke has now had 19 Academic All-America selections, including eight under head coach Mike Krzyzewski.
Duhon to Bring Sneakers-2-Succeed Campaign to Duke Former Duke men’s basketball All-America Chris Duhon will bring his Sneakers-2-Succeed campaign to Durham on Saturday, March 2, before Duke’s home game against Miami in Cameron Indoor Stadium. Beginning at 12 p.m. on March 2, donors can drop their shoes into special bins set up at the entrance of Cameron Indoor Stadium. The bins will be open until Duke’s 6 p.m. tipoff against Miami on Saturday. The collected sneakers and a monetary donation from local businesses will be presented at halftime. All sneakers collected at the Duke event will be donated to homeless children in Durham.
“It was only natural that we would partner up with Duke University and bring forth the Sneakers-2-Succeed campaign to Durham,” said Duhon, who helped Duke capture the 2001 NCAA Championship as a freshman and earned All-America honors in 2004. “Duke means a lot to me, and I am so grateful that we can all team up to help these children in need.”
About the Chris Duhon Stand Tall Foundation - Every day is an opportunity to contribute to the quality of a child's life, through recreation, education and welfare. Chris Duhon Stand Tall Foundation is committed to building up children who are the foundation of our communities. We believe an educated child has unlimited possibilities and it is our desire to serve the community in ways that are significant and will directly benefit the community's most valued citizens, children and youth.
Kelly Eager to Get Back Out on the Court Senior Ryan Kelly, sidelined with a right foot injury since the second half of the Clemson game on Jan. 8, continues to progress in his quest to get back out on the court this season. The Raleigh, N.C., native has been doing a lot of band work to strengthen his hips and core throughout the rehab process and has just recently added running in a pool to his routine. While he has been able to get out on the court and do some shooting, Kelly has not been cleared to practice at this point.
Kelly, who spoke to the media following Sunday’s win over Boston College, is feeling very good and is eager to come back and help the team.
"Obviously, I want to be ready for the tournament – that’s the biggest thing,” said Kelly. “But it’d certainly be very nice as well to get out there for my Senior Night. I’m working hard every day with the medical staff and my coaches, and I’m feeling really good and I’m progressing. It’s about getting into shape and doing all of the little things necessary to get back on the court full-time."
Three Former Blue Devils Change Teams at Trade Deadline The NBA trade deadline came and went on Thursday with a handful of minor deals and one major trade that sent J.J. Redick from Orlando to Milwaukee. Redick, one of the most sought after players at the deadline, was acquired by the Bucks (along with Gustavo Ayon and Ish Smith) in exchange for Doron Lamb, Tobias Harris and Beno Udrih.
Redick, averaging a career-best 15.1 points and 4.5 assists per game, is expected to provide an efficient backcourt weapon for a Milwaukee team that features high volume guards Brandon Jennings and Monte Ellis.
Josh McRoberts, an all-conference selection for the Blue Devils in 2007, was also traded from Orlando on the trade deadline. The Carmel, Ind., native was shipped to Charlotte (for Hakim Warrick) where he will join former Duke teammate Gerald Henderson on the roster.
Nine-year NBA veteran Dahntay Jones was traded from the Dallas Mavericks to the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday in a deal orchestrated by former Duke standout and current Hawks GM Danny Ferry. Jones has now played for Memphis, Sacramento, Indiana, Dallas and Atlanta in his career.
Stat of the Week Duke's guard trio of Seth Curry, Rasheed Sulaimon and Quinn Cook are shooting a combined 42.2 percent (156-of-369) from three-point range on the season. Last week, the trio combined to shoot 64.0 percent (16-of-25) from behind the three-point arc in wins over Virginia Tech and Boston College. Curry knocked down five of his six three-point attempts in the win over Virginia Tech, while Sulaimon drained three treys in each game.
Stat of the Week Part II The Blue Devils averaged 49.5 points in the opening half of play in their two wins this week. Duke shot over 60.0 percent from the field in the first half of play in both contest, matching a season-best first half field goal percentage on Sunday by going 18-of-29 (.621).
Quote of the Week "There’s no question I’d love to play on Senior Night. That’s something that, as a Duke basketball player that’s been here this long, you look forward to. But I’m listening to my medical staff, and I’m going to do whatever they tell me is best for me. They’ve been doing an incredible job for me, and between Jose Fonseca and Nick Potter, they’re getting me healthy, and I feel great.” - Senior Ryan Kelly
Twitter Time Duke Basketball always loves this message - Twitter is over capacity. In the spirit of the ever growing space that is Twitter, @Duke_MBB will offer two tickets to its ACC Tournament opener to a random follower if we get to 30,000 followers by March 12. @Duke_MBB is currently at 27,107 followers.