CHAPEL HILL — Mason Plumlee demands the ball all the time, he says, because he figures that will increase his chances of getting it.
He was demanding it in the first half of No. 3 Dukes 69-53 dismantling of North Carolina, but Seth Curry was making circus-type shots while sitting on the ground, and that meant Plumlee would have to wait.
And our guys do that, theyre unselfish, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said.
When the Blue Devils went to Plumlee to begin the second half, he was ready. The senior scored 15 of his game-high 23 points in the final 20 minutes. Plumlee also finished with 13 rebounds, giving him his ACC-best 17 double-doubles on the season.
Plumlee scored Dukes first 10 points of the second half. With Duke leading 42-26, he finished around the rim while James Michael McAdoo fouled him and then completed the 3-point play. On Dukes next offensive possession, he put back his own miss. Then he added a few style points, connecting with Quinn on two ally-oops.
When Plumlee took Cooks second pass and threw it down with two hands, Duke led 52-30.
They werent double-teaming him, Cook said. When he has a one-on-one matchup, we like that advantage. Coach really wanted us to get him the ball, and we really keyed on that.
The Tar Heels clearly wanted to key in on Ryan Kelly early and make sure he didnt have another career performance in his third game back after sustaining a foot injury. When Seth Curry scored 18 first-half points, more attention was drawn to the perimeter.
We have a great dynamic between me, Ryan and Seth where you have two guys spacing the floor, and then Im inside, so you kind of have to pick and choose who and what youre going to take away, Plumlee said.
McAdoo took part of the blame.
Guess I wasnt playing good defense, McAdoo said of his matchup with Plumlee. Because I was guarding him. And he just bulled his way to basket.
Plumlee bullied McAdoo on the boards, too, as the Tar Heels lone starting forward came down with just three total rebounds. UNC finished with 18 offensive rebounds (a slight improvement on the 20 the Tar Heels grabbed in Durham) but only converted them into 12 points.
Half those rebounds, guys were fighting a foot above the rim, Plumlee said, noting that McAdoo is one of the best leapers in the conference. I had to really go and get them tonight.
Plumlee and the rest of the Blue Devils jumped all over the Tar Heels as soon as the ball was tipped and ran out to a 14-0 lead. And after the game, the sound of the Blue Devils jumping around the locker room in celebration spilled out into the hallway.
Now were hitting our stride, Plumlee said. We can still get better.
It will be hard to top Plumlees performance from Saturday night.
Andrew Carter contributed to this article.