Duke Blue Devils Defeat NCAA Division II Champions In Preseason

By Michael Roberts


The Duke Blue Devils defeated the defending NCAA Division II Champion Western Washington Vikings 105-87 on Saturday in preseason action.

Seniors Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly scored 22 points each in the victory. Freshman Rasheed Sulaimon had 18 of his 20 points in the first half. The Blue Devils used a 13-0 run to create separation and never looked back, taking half 54-39. W. Washington would get to within 11 points with 13:38 left in the second but never got closer the rest of the way. Duke led by as many as 21 points during the game.

It’s impossible to take much from one of the premier schools in college basketball history running through a division II school. Duke defeating the division II champion doesn’t change any preseason predictions.

What it does offer is a small sample size to what could be.

Playing against a Vikings team made up of mostly juniors and seniors, the Blue Devils did two things very well. They shot the ball well at 57.6 percent on 34 for 59 shooting. Given that it’s the first time the team has played together as a unit, that’s most likely a number coach Mike Krzyzewski will be happy with.

The other thing the team did well was sharing the offensive load, which wasn’t always the case last season when Austin Rivers was around.

Plumlee and Kelly each had 22 points with both scoring 12 points in the second half. Plumlee would finish with a double-double having 11 rebounds, while Kelly had six rebounds and four assists. Freshman Amile Jefferson also contributed with 13 points and three rebounds.

The most exciting sign for Blue Devils fans has to be the impact Sulaimon had on the game scoring 18 points in the first half. He shot 6 for 9 from the field, including 2 of 4 from three point range to go along with three assists and two steals. If he develops into a legitimate scoring threat then the Blue Devils will be force to try and maintain. With the potential to have Sulaimon and Seth Curry on the perimeter to go along with Plumlee and Kelly in the post, Duke could have a lethal inside-out game. Few teams would be able to handle the multitude of options the Blue Devils could throw out.

It wasn’t like last year’s team didn’t have the talent, they just lacked chemistry. If the seniors can guide the freshmen and the freshmen can complement the seniors, Duke will easily improve its #8 ranking.

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