DUKE JOINS 2,000-WIN CLUB The 2,000-win club has a new member. Duke’s 66-51 defeat of Creighton in the NCAA Third Round was the 2,000th victory in Duke basketball history, putting the Blue Devils in elite company alongside Kentucky, Kansas and North Carolina, the only other three programs in NCAA Division I history to reach 2,000 wins.
WIN OVER CREIGHTON PROPELS DUKE TO SWEET 16 Duke is back in the Sweet 16 for the 13th time in the last 16 years following Sunday’s 66-50 win over seventh-seeded Creighton. It was a freshman who came up big for the Blue Devils Sunday night, as Rasheed Sulaimon poured in 21 points to offset a 21-point effort from Creighton forward Doug McDermott, the nation’s second-leading scorer. While Creighton neared his season average for points per game, Duke kept the rest of the Bluejay lineup in check, limiting the rest of the Creighton squad to just 29 points. Seth Curry also came on strong in the second half, scoring 13 of his 17 points in the second stanza. The win improved Duke’s non-conference record to 15-0 this season and put Duke within one victory of reaching 30 victories for the fourth time in the last five years and 13th time under Coach K.
DUKE STRIDES PAST ALBANY IN NCAA OPENER Duke had little trouble getting past Albany in the NCAA second round Friday, taking down the Great Danes 73-61 in the tournament opener. Seniors Seth Curry and Mason Plumlee combined for 49 points on 19-of-25 (.760) shooting in the rout while Quinn Cook dished out 11 assists for the second most by a Duke player in the NCAA Tournament in program history. Plumlee’s 9-for-11 (.818) shooting performance was the third-best field goal percentage by a Blue Devil in the NCAA Tournament, as well. The win bumped Duke’s all-time NCAA Tournament record to 97-32 (.752), which is the highest NCAA Tournament winning percentage of any program.
CURRY AND PLUMLEE AMONG TOURNAMENT’S BEST INSIDE-OUTSIDE DUOS When Seth Curry and Mason Plumlee both topped the 20-point mark in the NCAA Tournament opener against Albany, it marked the sixth time this season – and second time in the last three games – that those two have scored at least 20 points in the same game. Those two made up was the ACC’s top inside-outside pairing during the season and remain the top perimeter-post duo of the remaining teams in the NCAA Tournament. Their combined 34.5 points per game is the highest scoring average of any guard-forward combination left in the tournament, ahead of Indiana’s 30.2 points per game from Cody Zeller (16.7) and Victor Oladipo (13.5).
AMAKER LEADS HARVARD TO FIRST NCAA WIN Not only did former Duke star and assistant coach Tommy Amaker lead Harvard to its second straight NCAA Tournament appearance, Amaker guided the Crimson a 68-62 upset over third-seeded New Mexico in the second round Friday. It was a rare upset of a 14-seed over a three-seed, but even more significant is the fact that it was the first NCAA Tournament win in Harvard basketball history. Since taking over as head coach at Harvard in 2007-08, Amaker has led the Crimson to a 92-56 (.622) record and back-to-back Ivy League Championships.
Said Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski, who recruited Amaker to Duke, coached him from 1983-87 and brought him onto the Duke coaching staff from 1988-97, “I’m ecstatic for him, really. He’s done that with losing his two best players this year. I’m not going to want to schedule them next year. They’ve got everybody back.”
WHERE BATTIER GOES, WINNING STREAKS FOLLOW Former Duke standout Shane Battier has played a key role in the Miami Heat’s near-historic 25-game winning streak, which should come as no surprise to anyone who has watched the 6-8 forward since his days as a Blue Devil. “Off the Dribble,” the NBA blog of the New York Times, dug into the vault and found that this is Battier’s second NBA winning streak of at least 20 games and third since his sophomore season at Duke. Below is an excerpt from the article and a link to the entire feature:
For Battier, the streak is nothing new. There have been only four single-season winning streaks of at least 20 games in N.B.A. history, and he has been part of two of them, having been a starter on the Houston Rockets team that won 22 consecutive games in 2007-8. But neither streak qualifies as Battier’s longest; he was a starter during Duke’s 32-game run in 1998-99.
Had Battier not been born in 1978, it would be tempting to examine footage from the streaks of the Milwaukee Bucks (20) and Los Angeles Lakers (33) in the early 1970s for Forrest Gump-like appearances by him.
CELTICS PICK UP RANDOLPH FOR REMAINDER OF SEASON After inking former Duke big man Shavlik Randolph to consecutive 10-day contract, the Boston Celtics signed the 6-10 center for the remainder of the season. The contract also includes an option for the 2013-14 season, giving Randolph a chance to return for what would be his seventh NBA season. The Raleigh, North Carolina native averages 3.0 points and 4.3 rebounds per game in four contests for the Celtics this season with season highs of six points and eight rebounds against Charlotte on March 16. Randolph is one of 19 Duke players currently in the NBA, the most of any college program.
Seth Curry @sdotcurry 7h Tough win! Off to Nap town #Next #Sticktoitiveness #GodsWorkNotMine
QUOTE OF THE WEEK “You’ve got to make sure they hear you.” -Duke senior Mason Plumlee, with a smile, when asked about raising his voice to his teammates in a huddle near the end of the Duke-Albany game.