Once again, Duke was in this game until the bitter end. They had another killer play where Singler hit the end line on a rebound - Duke would have had the ball down four with a chance to make it a one possession game, and instead UNC converted three points and essentially made the final outcome academic. Carolina basically won the game in the first 7:16 of the second half. After Elliot Williams hit a jumper to extend the halftime lead to three, Carolina went on a 17-7 run to take a 55-48 lead. For the rest of the game, Duke never had the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead - they cut it to two twice, and Carolina immediately responded with scores. In the end, the analysis for this one was simple (Clark Kellogg, to his credit, nailed it) - Carolina had Ty Lawson, and we didn't. After Duke cut it to 65-63, Lawson scored or assisted on all of the next 13 Tar Heel points (basically everything they got for the rest of the game except Hansbrough's final FT).
Even though it was a loss, there was a lot for Duke to be optimistic about. They came in with a good game plan, and slowed Lawson down much better than in the first game. On offense, they largely got exactly what they wanted - Duke had some very, very good looks at the hoop that didn't go down; at the very least, they dictated what would happen on that end of the court much more than Carolina did.
Here's the HD box from that game. Again, this one illustrates the limited value +/- has when you're talking about players who don't sit much - Scheyer sat for 2 possessions that we won 2-0, which ended up giving him a team low -10. I think it goes without saying that he was not Duke's least valuable cog.
And, Carolina's plus/minus for the game.
On to the ACCT. The Maryland game has already gotten coverage, but the BC box wasn't up in time for me to run the numbers before Day 2 started. Biko Paris had the game of his life against the Devils, hitting all 5 of his shots from the field and ending up with 15 (at least a season high). His production was extremely valuable to the Eagles - they were +17! when he was in the game. Those numbers, of course, reflect the "runs" nature of the game. Duke started out 11-2 and 17-11. BC then finished the half on an 18-5 run. Duke responded to open the second half with a 32-17 push, and then BC closed out with a 19-12 finish. Paris was on the court for every part of BC's runs and very little of Duke's. That's how you end up +17.
For the Devils, Kyle Singler carried the day - 26 points on 15 shots plus 9 rebounds (4 offensive). Henderson struggled with silly fouls early, but came in to hit the go ahead shot (and ultimately the game winner) down the stretch (side note - we should really post him up more, particularly when he has a size advantage). It was a real survive-and-advance game for Duke. I don't know what it is about BC this year - both on paper and to the eye during the game, they don't look that good. But they beat UNC, beat Duke, and took the Devils right down to the wire the second time around. Here's the HD Box:
And, BC's plus/minus:
Finally, the ACC title game was Duke at almost its very best. They played excellent defense in the first half (and most of the second half too, really), holding FSU to just 2 field goals in the half's last 24 possessions. On offense, for the first time in a long time, Henderson, Singler, and Scheyer all had good games together (and Nolan Smith added valuable penetration ability). When those three are on like they were Sunday, Duke is very tough to stop. Duke won the game on the 3-point line (first time in a long while where that was really the case), but that doesn't mean they won by playing on the perimeter. They were at their best when they spread the court and played drive/draw/dish - guys got bettter looks, shot the ball in rhythm, and converted. When they shot 1-on-1 threes, or just passed the ball around the perimeter for jumpers, the offense was far less effective.
Most encouraging was the way Duke responded to an early second half push from FSU. The Noles cut a 14-point halftime lead to 6 in one heck of a hurry. Duke then scored 23 points over the next 8 possessions, scoring on each trip and getting the lead to the game-high 22. While FSU made it interesting down the stretch thanks to hot shooting, stupid Duke fouls, and poor free throw shooting on our part, the game was essentially over after those 8 possessions.
Jon Scheyer was awarded tournament MVP, and it was richly deserved (I would have had no quarrel with Toney Douglas being selected, as he was sensational). Scheyer posted offensive ratings of 134.6, 154.9, and 164.6 in the three games, hitting 4-6 from 2, 12-25 from 3, and 21-25 from the line. He was the Devils' steadying force throughout the weekend, and largely responsible for the miniscule number of turnovers (4) committed against FSU. Kudos to Jon for an MVP-caliber performance.
And FSU's plus/minus