Duke 80, Wake Forest 62: Deacons left in the Wake of Duke's 3-pt Shooting

Grant Halverson

Devils look fantastic and awful in their ACC opener.

A quick glance at the stat sheet shows that Duke looked really great in some facets of the game Saturday against Wake Forest. And really bad in others. Let's do a little Good Cop, Bad Cop to take a look...

Good Devils: 46% 3pt shooting. Bad Devils: 50% FT shooting (27% in the 2nd half)
Good Devils: 22 assists on 29 made baskets Bad Devils: Out rebounded 43-35
Good Ryan Kelly: 22 pts (5-7 from 3) in only 18 minutes of play. Bad Ryan: Fouled out in only 18 minutes of play, and his first shot, a wide open 3, was an airball.
Good Quinn Cook: 14 assists, 1 turnover Bad Cook: 0-11 shooting from the floor, 0 FT attempts
Good Mason: Another double-double; 5-8 shooting. Bad Mason: 3-9 from the line
Good Marshall Plumlee: Looking like his big bro going to the basket in the post. Bad MP3: Looked like his big bro from the charity stripe.

Some of these are just jaw-dropping. In Duke history, Quinn Cooks's 14:1 assist to turnover mark tied Tommy Amaker's 1986 performance and trails only Bobby Hurley's 1993 15:1 outing (pretty good company, by the way). It's probably also been about that long since a Duke player went 0-11 from the floor during a game. That said, Cook's contribution to this team cannot be overstated, and not just from the "finally a true point guard" perspective. He's also a leader on the floor - always talking; always hustling. He was only credited for 1 steal, but a couple of times in the second half he turned Wake over after Duke baskets just by hustling when he wasn't expected to hustle so much.

I really love the 22 assists. An assist on 76% of made baskets means you're getting good, easy shots within the flow of the offense. However, giving up 43 rebounds shows the defense isn't closing out nearly as effectively. It's been pointed out that Duke's "D" is quite good all the way up to a contested shot. From that point to a defensive rebound, the Devils are really sub-par. Rebounding continues to be a potential Achilles Heel for Duke.

Mason Plumlee faced more double-teams for the second game in a row, and for the second game in a row his point production was below his average of 18.4 ppg. A few more made free throws and he would have gotten close to that average. Here's the thing with his FT shooting, though. I think I saw something in his demeanor as he walked to the line during what was at the time a close game in the second half against Davidson. Until that point he had missed most of his free throw attempts. However, he looked calm and confident. He knocked down both, on the way to 7-8 from the stripe in the second half, if I recall, and helped put the game away. I'm going to say it now: Mason makes free throws when it matters. Hack-a-Plumlee will not be an effective strategy. Double-team-a-Plumlee? TBD..

Marshall "Psycho 3" Plumlee got enough run in this game for us to get a little better flavor for his game. He definitely moves more like a traditional post man than his brothers (read: slower, less fluid). What I saw that I liked, though, was how he took two entry passes straight up to the basket. No dribble. No pump fake. The ball stayed above his shoulders on the way to the rim. One attempt ended in a made basket, the other in a shooting foul. Sadly, he bricked both FTs, but I can let that slide for now. Let's hope he continues to get more playing time and get into game shape so we can see what he can really do.

I'll take the bad with the good from Duke's first conference game of the 2013 campaign. Those terrifying lows and dizzying highs will certainly give way to a creamy middle, and that will likely be a place where the Blue Devils can take almost anyone's best shot.

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