Dec 1, 2012, 4:50 PM EDT
So far this season, Duke’s ascendance to a No. 2 ranking has been predicated on the actions of a well-drilled corps of seniors. Mason Plumlee, Seth Curry and Ryan Kelly are the core of Coach K’s latest ACC challenger. Sophomore Quinn Cook has ably proven that he can run the point for the 8-0 Blue Devils, and freshman Rasheed Sulaimon (pictured) has acquitted himself very well in starter’s minutes.
If hopeful future foes question the Duke bench, however, today’s 88-50 blowout of presumptive CAA top-echelon challenger Delaware showed there’s more where the starting five came from.
Given 21 minutes in the easy win, 6’8″ freshman Amile Jefferson made an impression, scoring 12 points and grabbing six boards as Plumlee and Kelly rested. Fellow newbie Alex Murphy chipped in 10 and seven, along with a block.
Neither player had sniffed double figures in minutes, points or anything other than splinters as the Blue Devils punched their way through a brutal early schedule that included wins over Kentucky, Louisville and Ohio State. Opportunity knocked against a lesser foe, and both tyros answered with authority.
Duke’s starters also fared well, with Kelly and Plumlee scoring 18 apiece, and Sulaimon chipping in 14.
Though Delaware has struggled to a 2-6 record in the early going, the team is strong in the frontcourt, with twin senior behemoths Jamelle Hagins and Carl Baptiste muscling up in the paint. For Jefferson and Murphy to play so well against a quality opponent is highly encouraging for Duke as the long season wears on, and bench production becomes more important.
The no-doubt weary Blue Devils will now have a week off before facing A-10 challenger Temple on December 8.
Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.
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