Duke shrugged off another slow start to win their 12th game of the season beating Santa Clara 90-77 to remain undefeated. Seth Curry led the Blue Devils as he scored 31 points on 12 of 18 shooting and hitting 3 of 4 shots from behind the arc. Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly added double doubles, 22 points and 15 rebounds for Plumlee and 10 points and 11 boards for Kelly as they extended Duke’s non-conference home win streak to 101 games.
Seth Curry’s 31 points helped propel Duke past a pesky Santa Clara team.
Duke has continued to have some sluggish starts, but has also continued to wake up at some point during the game. Going forward into ACC play they may not be so lucky as the competition in conference play picks up. That isn’t to say Santa Clara (11-3) isn’t a good team, as they clearly look like a team that could make the NCAA Tournament.
Duke struggled to contain Santa Clara’s Kevin Foster, who along with Curry, put on a scoring clinic. Evan Roquemore added 17 points and Marc Trasolini and Raymond Cowels III scored 10 points apiece for the Broncos.
I will call this one just a little holiday complacency, and a good test for the Blue Devils. Santa Clara came to play and gave the Devils a good test. This year’s team seemingly has been able to handle the adversity they have been put in or put themselves into, and that has been due large in part to their senior leadership.
The seniors accounted for 63 points, 27 rebounds, and 7 assists. The rebound total beat that of the entire Broncos team. The 36 team rebounds were right at the Blue Devils’ season average.
Duke was down 45-41 in the second half and then the light turned on for the Devils and they were able to create a working lead, and hold off the Broncos down the stretch.
Duke missed 12 free throws going 21 for33 for the game, but missed 10 of their first 18 free throws, helping Santa Clara to keep it close in the first half. Luckily for the Blue Devils they kept their fouls in check and Santa Clara only attempted 15 free throws the entire game.
Overall the Blue Devils had some career individual achievements, but the development of bench deeper than 7 will help when foul trouble and poor shooting nights come and they will eventually come. When called upon the bench needs to produce some output on the court, and a lot of input during practice. After all, it’s team sport, and while the individual stat producers are necessary, Duke is going to need some production or at least some relief from the bench.
Mike Krzyzewski is known for shortening his bench in tough games and as the Blue Devils head into ACC play. Marshall Plumlee, who injured his foot again prior to Christmas break against Cornell dressed out but only played one minute. Alex Murphy also played a single minute and Amile Jefferson who has played off and on recorded his first DNP of the year.
At some point Duke fans would like to see some of these guys get more playing time but right now unless Krzyzewski starts seeing more from them where he is comfortable or someone gets hurt or in foul trouble you probably can expect Josh Hairston and Tyler Thornton to be the main options off the bench.
In the mean time Duke faces Davidson on Wednesday in their final non-conference test before ACC play starts next weekend. The Blue Devils can hope not to have a New Year’s let down before the ACC opener with Wake Forest next weekend.
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