Duke Now postgame: Thoughts from Duke's win over Ohio State

lkeeley@newsobserver.comNovember 29, 2012 

Another day, another win over a highly touted opponent for the Blue Devils.

It's not even December, and Duke has beaten three top-five teams (then-No. 3 Kentucky, then-No. 2 Louisville and No. 4 Ohio State). That's a feat only three other Duke teams have accomplished in a season. The most recent team to beat three top-five squads in the same season was the 1998-99 Blue Devils (No. 2 Michigan State, No. 3 Kentucky, No. 4 Maryland).

Enough history, though. Here are a few points from Wednesday's win over Ohio State:

***Quinn Cook was in a fiery mood all game. At one point in the first half, two of the referees came over and told him to calm down. Tyler Thornton was in a similar mood, and he was whistled for a technical foul at the end of the half.

That fiery passion that Cook, Thornton and the rest of the team showed wasn't always there last year, in Cook's eyes.

"We didn’t fight last year at all times," he said. "This team, we have a lot of people who are back from last year’s team that have been through it, the losses and the Twitter jokes, and we just wanted to fight."

He emphasized that point again when asked specifically about his first-half chat with the officials.

“I just wanted to fight, man," Cook said. "Me and Tyler, we’re really feisty guys and we were feisty and tough. They were punking us in the first half. Me and him just wanted to send a message and get the crowd going."

***Ryan Kelly came up with yet another top-notch defensive performance. The Buckeyes' Deshaun Thomas was a preseason All-American, and Kelly held him to a season-low 16 points and two rebounds.

"I took it upon myself, and my teammates had my back, to do my best to control him," Kelly said. "He can obviously score the basketball really well, and whenever he is open, he makes it. I did my best, and I certainly fought for every second I was in there."

Mike Krzyzewski said that he thought Kelly played his best game of the year (and I'd agree, given the defensive results and his season-high 15 points).

"Thomas is a terrific player, and it was kind of a wash there."

Kelly washed out an All-American. That's a huge win for Duke.

***Remember when Krzyzewski said that Duke wasn't going to get many points off the bench? The starters scored 94.5 percent of the points against Ohio State. Josh Hairston had all four bench points. Those points were efficient, though, as he went 2-for-2, scoring both from close range. No one else from the bench attempted a shot.

***Seth Curry looked like he was feeling the effects of four games in seven days. There were a few times when he was obviously in pain due to his right shin injury, including at the 8:08 mark in the second half when an awkward fall caused him to grit his teeth in pain. He went 1-for-6 from the field for a season-low four points. Luckily for Duke, there isn't a game until Saturday. And after that, the Blue Devils don't play until the following Saturday.

And I dare say Curry wasn't the only tired Duke player—Mason Plumlee inexplicably air balled his final free throw attempt. Krzyzewski said afterwards that he was glad that was out of his system.

***Even though both Plumlee and Kelly talked extensively about last year's loss at Ohio State leading up to the game, there wasn't much talk of "revenge" afterward. Kelly was asked about it, and this was all he had to say:

"We had to prove as a team that after winning a championship, we could put that behind us and take the next step. Last year is last year, but we couldn’t make that step last year. This is a whole new team. We’re confident, and we’re ready for the next one."

***I'll have a story on Rasheed Sulaimon's 17-point second half for Friday's paper, so look for it to hit the web Thursday night.

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