After all, wasn’t this the year Duke was supposed to go backwards? The year that the North Carolina State Wolfpack were set to be the dominate team in the ACC? It seems like nobody told the folks in Durham this.
The performance in the first half by Curry and Plumlee made it seem like the pair were simply just taking turns scoring the ball. Plumlee would come down one possession and a hit a mid-range jumper. Curry would come down the next, dribbling all over before putting up a tear drop that made you go “he’s not Stephen’s little bro anymore.” Plumlee would then come down and dunk it, while the next possession saw Curry shoot a three. The first 22 points scored by Duke saw 11 of them belong to Curry and nine were Plumlee’s.
Curry would finish with 23 points having one of his best games as a Blue Devil. He displayed the shooting stroke everybody knew he had, but more importantly he did it by executing an outside-in game to near perfection. No longer having to share the ball with ball hog Austin Rivers, Curry showed leadership and swagger not yet seen before by the senior in a Blue Devil uniform.
He began the game with three three-pointers and when defenders tried to run him off the line, he’d blow by them to the basket. He drove to the rim fearlessly despite potential first overall pick Nerlens Noel hovering around the paint. Everyone knew he possessed the shooting touch that runs in the Curry family bloodlines but his ability to put the ball on the floor is what stood out above the rest. If he can do that consistently over the season then his draft stock will skyrocket.
Keep in mind, nobody thought brother Stephen would be anything more than a spot up shooter in NBA in his draft year. The Curry’s just seem to be built with heart and determination dead set on proving people wrong and it appears Seth wants people to know he’s more than just a excellent shooter.
Plumlee had 18 points and three rebounds despite being in foul trouble for most of the game. When he was on the court he looked nearly unstoppable displaying relentless energy around the rim as the Wildcats could not find a way to contain him. He shot 7-8 from the field and was perfect from the free throw line.
Freshman Rasheed Sulaimon impressed, contributing with 10 points, six rebounds and five assists. Senior Ryan Kelly also chipped in with 10 points, three rebounds, three blocks and three steals.
Still, this game belonged to the duo of Curry and Plumlee. The media will jump all over Curry’s impressive game suggesting he stepped out of his brother’s shadow but the truth of the matter is he did that year’s ago. For anyone who saw him play during his freshman year with the Liberty Flames where he averaged 20.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.3 points, it was never a matter of “if” Curry could do it. Just a matter of “when” Curry was going to do it. He struggled to find himself in his first year with Duke, and last year was forced to take a backseat to Austin Rivers.
Now with Rivers gone from trying to hog the spotlight and shoot his way down the draft board, the unselfish pair of Curry and Plumlee appear set to be Duke’s best dynamic duo since Shelden Williams and J.J. Redick.
With Plumlee and Curry sharing the offensive load, the Blue Devils surround them with a supporting cast of Kelly, Sulaimon, Amile Jefferson, Tyler Thornton and Quinn Cook. All are players capable of stepping up and having big games on their own.
Suddenly, it doesn’t look like the Blue Devils will be taking a step back any time soon.
Follow Michael on Twitter @MichaelxRoberts