Monday, March 03, 2008


It will not go down in history as a vintage Duke win. It got a collective "phew!" out of Duke fans everywhere (as well as a few, "wait, how exactly did we win that game" reactions). But at the end of the day, it's counts the same as the previous 799, and sticks Coach K in rarified company for wins at the college level.

As for this year's version of the Devils, there have to be some concerns about the defense. Sidney Lowe drew up an excellent offensive gameplan, keeping the floor well-spaced so that Duke was always a step late bringing help. NCSU used good ball rotation to get wide-open looks and, to their credit, they largely hit them. It was a hot shooting day all around - both teams were lights out from the line, and both were lights out from beyond the arc. Only Duke's struggles in the lane kept both teams from shooting over 50%.

Of course, while Lowe gets credit for the offensive game-plan, he has to get some questions about his game management in the last minute. The Pack turned it over with 40 seconds left in the game, trailing by 1. Lowe chose not to foul to try to extend the game. He chose not to employ a pressure defense or double teams that could force either a turnover or a quicker shot by Duke. Instead, he had his team back off, and let Nelson just dribble time off the clock. While Duke didn't exactly get a good look, they used up 90% of the remaining game time, leaving NCSU with a desperation heave to try to win. 40 seconds is a lot of time at the end of a basketball game, and Coach Lowe decided he was only interested in getting about 4 seconds of it. A curious decision to say the least.

For the Pack, defense reared its ugly head again. They got a lot of credit for the 2-3 matchup, but they still gave up 1.18 points per possession to Duke. If the Devils could have finished a little stronger in the lane, that number likely would have been higher. And from the 5 minute mark, when the Pack last held an 8 point lead, Duke scored 14 points in just 8 possessions.

Duke heads to Virginia this week, to meet a Cavalier squad that has been playing much better since the return of Laurynas Mikalauskas (2-2 since his return, with the two losses coming by 1 to UNC and by 2 to Miami). First for UVA, however, is the makeup of the rainout game with Georgia Tech (yes, I said rainout in reference to basketball).

Around the ACC

UNC faced a similar situation to the Devils on Saturday. A hot shooting opponent jumped out to a big lead, only to fall victim to a second half comeback. Ty Rice had 46 all by his lonesome, including a ridiculous 34! in the first half, and the Eagles led by as many as 18. But they fell cold over a long stretch when the Heels got hot, and UNC put up nearly a 30 point swing in the second half, winning by 10. The Heels get a suddenly resurgent Florida State team at home for QT's senior day.

Miami barely held on over UVA to get to 7-7 in conference. A win over BC on Wednesday assures them of a .500 conference record and (with wins over Mississippi State, VCU, Duke, and Clemson) virtually locks up a bid. Wake was not so lucky. Needing a road win over Georgia Tech, the Deacs came out flat, and now their NCAA chances have gone up in smoke, barring a run to at least the ACCT finals.

Sunday finished out a weekend of road comebacks for the league's top 3 teams as Clemson stormed back late to steal one over Maryland. The Terps led by 13 with 4:48 to play. They were outscored 18-2 the rest of the way. Over that span, the offense missed 5 of 6 from the field, their only attempt from the line, and turned it over three times. Clemson got it all back on twos until the Oglesby three with just seconds remaining. The win moved Clemson into complete lock status, and made the Terps uneasy. They have just a road game left at Virginia (on Singeltary's senior night, so uh oh) and they'll be an uninspiring 18-13, 8-8 if they drop that one. I think Maryland needs 2-3 more wins, and since there's only one regular season game left, that means they'll need to do their damage in the ACCT.

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