DeCock: Curry assures reversal of fortune

ldecock@newsobserver.comFebruary 8, 2013 

Duke's Seth Curry celebrates after drilling a 3-pointer during the first half against N.C. State on Thursday, February 7, 2013, at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C.

ETHAN HYMAN — ehyman@newsobserver.com Buy Photo

— Quinn Cook, no stranger to chronic injuries himself, doesn’t know how Seth Curry does it. Only the odd practice, hobbling around on the sore right shin that has plagued him since the summer, four months into the season and in the middle of the ACC grind, and Curry is on his best scoring run of the season.

Curry said it’s not getting any better. It’s impossible to tell.

He scored Duke’s final 10 points of the first half Thursday, giving the Blue Devils a 21-point halftime lead, enough to hold off N.C. State’s second-half comeback in a 98-85 win. Curry finished with 26 points, his third straight 20-point game, continuing to amaze both teammates and coaches alike with his ability to play through the pain.

“It’s tough,” said Cook, Duke’s point guard. “I don’t know how he does it. No practice, just constant rest, and be 100 percent on game day. I don’t know how he does it, but he’s been doing it all year. He’s the best at it.”

In the final stretch of the first half, Curry went on a one-man 10-2 run, giving Duke all the cushion it would need. He hit back-to-back 3-pointers, made a pair of free throws and hit a turn-around jumper in the lane. He finished the half with 18 points -- and it could have been more had he landed his buzzer-beating 3-point attempt.

“I felt like I had an advantage, so I was just being aggressive, coming off screens hard,” Curry said. “I had a few opportunities to score and was able to knock down some shots early.”

On a night when so many key players were missing -- Ryan Kelly and Josh Hairston for Duke; Lorenzo Brown for N.C. State, which also lost Scott Wood to a groin injury for a good chunk of the first half -- it was equally notable that Curry was not.

Over the past two games, he’s 9-for-19 on 3-pointers, and shooting nights like these make it all too easy to forget Curry has spent most of the season in constant pain, trying to manage a chronic right shin injury that has plagued him for months and restricted his practice time.

The disruption is especially difficult for a shooter like Curry, who has few opportunities outside of games to practice getting shots in the flow and rhythm of the offense with his teammates, but has still managed to show significant improvement over last season in his shooting percentage both from 3-point range and overall.

And his shin isn’t getting any better, either. “It just feels the same,” Curry said.

So Duke will continue to minimize his practice time and maximize his time on the court; Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said Duke took advantage of the schedule to take back-to-back days off this week on Sunday and Monday, which he suggested helped Curry more than anyone.

“If you were with us the whole season and watched how much he does practice, and for him to play like that, it’s truly remarkable,” Krzyzewski said. “It’s maintaining. ... The more rest that we can give him, the better.”

Since an 0-for-10 performance in the dismal loss to Miami, Curry has been on his most consistent scoring pace of the season: 13 points against Maryland, 21 at Wake Forest, 21 at Florida State and 26 on Thursday.

Curry only had eight points in the second half, all from the free-throw line, and Krzyzewski said that’s where the injury takes its toll in terms of conditioning and fatigue. If Duke can get from Curry what he delivered in the first half, no one will complain about what happens in the second.

DeCock: ldecock@newsobserver.com, @LukeDeCock, 919-829-8947

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