Commentary

DeCock: Williams on Duke's Seth Curry: 'He toyed with us'

ldecock@newsobserver.comMarch 10, 2013 

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Duke guard Seth Curry shoots an off-balance shot and scores in the first half against the Tar Heels at the Smith Center in Chapel Hill, N.C. Saturday March 9, 2013.

CHUCK LIDDY — cliddy@newsobserver.com Buy Photo

— He hit open shots and 3-pointers with a hand in his face, drove to the rim and spun open for jumpers, even hit sitters. Seth Curry slipped in the lane, fell backwards onto his posterior and tossed the ball in the bucket anyway.

It took Curry more than 12 minutes to miss a shot, a streak as impressive for its variety as its accuracy. To paraphrase Seve Ballesteros, he make, he make, he make, he make, he make, he make, he make, he miss.

Curry’s first half to send Duke on to victory over North Carolina and a sweep of the season series was a one-half college counterpart to his older brother Stephen’s 54-point NBA explosion against the Knicks last month. Difference is, Curry’s team won this one, 69-53.

“Seth Curry was a huge factor early,” North Carolina coach Roy Williams said. “He toyed with us. He got any shot he wanted.”

For all the talk before the game about Ryan Kelly’s return and how the Tar Heels’ newfangled smaller lineup would fare against Kelly and Mason Plumlee, it was all Curry from the opening tip. He drove the lane to make it 7-0, hit a 3-pointer to make it 12-0 and pulled up for a jump shot to complete Duke’s opening 14-0 run.

Curry had 18 points in the first half – more than he has scored in 13 games this season, including a two-point performance in the first meeting with the Tar Heels. He hit on 8-for-10 shooting, much of it matched up against Reggie Bullock, a legitimate candidate for the ACC’s all-defensive team.

“People label him as a shooter, but he’s a scorer,” Plumlee said. “The one time in the second half he got fouled, he was in there pivoting like a post man, got hit on the head. He’s just so crafty. He’s not just a spot shooter. He’s a scorer.”

Curry was hardly the only Blue Devil who couldn’t miss in the first half. His teammates were 10 for 16, staking out a staggering 42-24 halftime lead. They were so accurate Curry even managed to pick up two assists, even though it seemed like he scored every time he touched the ball – even from a seated position.

“I actually knew that was going in the whole time,” Curry joked. “I just got good shots, got in a rhythm. I felt like when I got my shot off, it was going to go in. I started the game pretty well, then I got a little tired.”

He did the same thing to N.C. State in Durham, scoring 10 of his 26 points in one stretch at the end of the first half. As was the case that night, Curry was less of a factor in the second half – not infrequent this season as his inability to practice because of chronic shin pain inevitably weakens his stamina.

Curry finished with 20 points, on two second-half free throws, but he’d done more than enough damage by then. Plumlee took over in the second half, scoring Duke’s first 10 points as the Blue Devils padded their lead. The Tar Heels made a late run, but never got closer than 14 points.

“They had to key on Seth a little bit more, and it opened things up for myself, Tyler (Thornton), Mason, everybody out there,” Duke guard Quinn Cook said. “When we have a guy going like that, we’re a hard team to beat.”

The Tar Heels may get another shot at the Blue Devils on Saturday in Greensboro. They have a week to figure out how to stop Curry before then.

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

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