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Duke’s comeback win adds to their resume, Plumlee’s POY candidacy

Nov 29, 2012, 12:36 AM EDT

Aaron Craft, Mason Plumlee

You want to talk about impressive wins?

No. 2 Duke’s come-from-behind, 72-68 win over No. 4 Ohio State on Wednesday night was impressive for much more than the simple fact that the Blue Devils beat the No. 4 team in the country despite being outplayed for about the first 28 minutes of the game.

Three days ago, the Blue Devils were in the Bahamas, beating then-No. 2 Louisville for the Battle 4 Atlantis title, an event that required Duke to win three games in three days over the Thanksgiving holiday. That’s tough enough, but Duke isn’t exactly a normal team right now. They get almost no offensive production from their bench and the only reason that guys like Tyler Thornton and Josh Hairston see significant minutes is because a) Seth Curry isn’t healthy and b) Miles Plumlee and Ryan Kelly always seem to be getting into foul trouble.

You could see it early in the game.

Duke looked a step slow to every loose ball. They were beaten on the offensive glass far too many times. Their offense looked out of sync. It looked like they were going through the motions. Sleepwalking, if you will.

That changed in the second half. It started with Quinn Cook leading the break, finding Mason Plumlee for a couple of dunks in transition (including this ridiculous lob). The Blue Devils started getting up into Ohio State defensively. All of a sudden their cuts were sharper and their shots just that much more open. Rasheen Sulaimon went off to the tune of 17 points in the second half, helping make up for the fact that Curry was banged up. Plumlee finished with 21 points and 17 boards. And Duke was still undefeated with, by far, the strongest resume in the country.

But we already knew all of this about Duke. For the last three days, we’ve been discussing whether or not the Blue Devils should have knocked Indiana out of the No. 1 spot in the rankings.

What hasn’t gotten as much publicity, however, has been the play of Mason Plumlee. Through seven games, he’s now averaging 19.9 points and 11.0 boards while shooting 65.3% from the floor and, astoundingly, 78.9% from the free throw line. And he’s done that while Duke has beaten Louisville, Kentucky, Ohio State, VCU and Minnesota.

I still have Indiana as the best team in the country.

That’s not going to change until the Hoosiers do something to prove to me they aren’t as good as they looked in the second half against North Carolina.

I will, however, change my opinion on who will win the National Player of the Year award.

Right now, it has to be Plumlee. And his schedule is only going to get easier from here on out.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

  1. sailbum7 - Nov 29, 2012 at 7:58 AM

    While Plumlee has no doubt been playing very well, it is a little early in the season to be talking about who should win player of the year. As for Duke, I guess a win is a win, no matter how ugly or close it was. The amazing thing is that they are beating top ranked teams even when they do not appear to be playing at their best. Imagine what they would be doing to other teams if they started firing on all cylinders for the entire game.

    • jmfallon - Nov 29, 2012 at 1:10 PM

      It is never too early to talk POY mostly because it involves the play throughout the course of the entire year. Thus far Plumlee has made the best argument for the top POY, because of who Duke has played this early in the year.

  2. ccjcsr - Nov 29, 2012 at 8:00 AM

    Does it really matter? All Duke players end up being subpar pros!

    • jmfallon - Nov 29, 2012 at 1:11 PM

      Kyrie Irivng = ROY

    • basedrum777 - Nov 29, 2012 at 5:26 PM

      Since when does college basketball need to rely on Pro relevance to be an item? Duke has graduated more students with real degrees that can actually read and write then almost any other school sans the Ivy. Just because you don’t like what Elton Brand has become doesn’t change that.

  3. huhsj - Nov 29, 2012 at 8:41 AM

    I think Miles Plumlee is in the D League right now so I don’t think it matters that he is getting in foul trouble.

  4. huhsj - Nov 29, 2012 at 8:43 AM

    Oh and it is Rasheed Sulaimon not Rasheen. Does anyone proofread these things?

  5. peteycroubs - Nov 29, 2012 at 8:46 AM

    @ccjcsr Mainly, because they go from a hall of fame coach to a noob. Coach K likes hustle and making an all-around unit. That is why they are always going to the dance, even when they are “rebuilding”.

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