Kelly leads Duke to 80-62 win over Wake Forest

lkeeley@newsobserver.comJanuary 6, 2013 

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Duke forward Ryan Kelly (34) races past Wake Forest forward Tyler Cavanaugh (34) in the first half of play at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C.

CHUCK LIDDY — cliddy@newsobserver.com

— Whenever Duke plays Wake Forest, Ryan Kelly seems to find his shooting touch.

Saturday afternoon’s 80-62 victory for Duke was no exception.

Kelly scored a season-high 22 points and shot 5-of-7 from 3-point range. Foul trouble limited him to just 18 minutes of action, and he finished one point shy of his career-high, which came last season at Wake Forest.

Of the five career games that Kelly has topped 20 points, four of them have come against the Demon Deacons (7-6).

“I’m just confident,” Kelly said. “I’ve put a lot of work into it in practice. When I get my open looks, I shoot it with confidence.

“People were saying earlier in the season that I wasn’t shooting the 3 ball well. Numbers always tend to find a way to come back to what they’re supposed to be.”

As a team, Duke (14-0) shot well from long range, finishing 11-for-24 (45.8 percent) on 3-point attempts. In fact, the Blue Devils’ first seven field goals were 3-pointers, and Duke didn’t convert a two-point basket until Plumlee dunked an alley-oop from Quinn Cook at the 9:03 mark of the first half. That bucket stretched Duke’s lead to 27-19.

“We were 11-for-24 from 3 but it seemed like we could have hit about eight more,” head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “They’re just wide open.”

Kelly, though, was particularly effective, and the five 3s he did make were a single game career-high. And when he wasn’t hitting from long range, Kelly was able to drive the lane a few times, finishing 5-of-6 from the free throw line.

“He is very crafty in the post,” Wake Forest head coach Jeff Bzdelik said. “He is intelligent. He is like a point guard out there, because when he catches the basketball he can do a lot of things with it.”

The jump shots were so effective in the first half for Kelly and the Blue Devils that they rarely went inside. Plumlee only attempted three first-half field goals, making one to finish with two points. Overall, he finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds, and he asserted himself early in the second half during a 16-6 run in the first four minutes that put Duke ahead 58-36.

The fact that the Blue Devils went away from running the offense through Plumlee in the post didn’t bother Krzyzewski, who normally prefers to stick with what’s working, whether it’s a certain play or a specific player. Seth Curry also had a hot hand, scoring 22 points on 8-of-15 shooting.

“You take the shots that are there, as long as they’re good shots,” Krzyzewski said. “We will always shoot the 3 here.”

Quinn Cook set a new career-high with 14 assists (against just one turnover) and managed to keep his focus despite shooting 0-for-11 from the field. Like Plumlee, who doesn’t mind deferring to the jump shooters, Cook wasn’t focused on his own shot. After the game, he cared about just one thing.

“We won,” he said. “That’s the biggest thing.”

And the Blue Devils want to keep winning. After his media obligations were complete, Cook went back on the floor to practice his shot. As teams focus their defense on stopping Plumlee and Curry, Duke’s two main scoring threats, others, like Cook, Kelly and Rasheed Sulaimon, will be left open. Kelly took advantage of that Saturday.

“He stepped up,” Krzyzewski said of Kelly. “He just had the openings and knocked them down. He was on his way to a 35, 40-point game, really. We would have obviously kept calling his number. I like to do stuff like that.”

Keeley 919-829-4556; Twitter @laurakeeley

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