Quinn cooks up a career night in Duke win

Duke improved to 15-0 on the season and 2-0 in Atlantic Coast Conference play with a 68-40 defeat of Clemson Tuesday night.  Just as the score would suggest, it was a tale of two entirely different teams.

Mason Plumlee, arguably the nation’s best player to this point in the season, struggled offensively last night, scoring eight points on 3-for-9 shooting.  However, his teammates stepped up to lessen the blow, namely Quinn Cook.

Against Wake Forest on Saturday, Cook was 0-for-11 from the field.  He did have a 14-to-1 assist to turnover ratio in the game, which obviously pleased Duke fans and coaches, but Cook went back out on the Cameron Indoor Stadium floor after that game to work on his shooting, aiming to remove any doubts about his stroke before it would be tested again in competition.

Just as the scriptwriters would have preferred, Cook’s shooting was the catalyst for the Blue Devil victory.  The 6’1” sophomore scored a career-high 27 points, knocking down three of five attempts from beyond the arc.  Cook also contributed five rebounds, five assists, and four steals, a complete effort that earned him a rousing ovation from the Cameron crowd as he left the game.

Ryan Kelly also provided a boost in the first half.  His 12 points on 4-of-9 shooting gave him a two-point lead over the entire Clemson roster at halftime, leading to serenades of “Ryan’s winning” from the Crazies.  However, he did not play in the second period due to a right foot injury, which will be examined further today.

Meanwhile, Clemson’s Devin Booker was looking for a little help from his friends.  Booker recorded a double-double, scoring 12 points and collecting a career-high 15 rebounds. Unlike his counterpart Plumlee, however, Booker didn’t have a supporting cast on Tuesday evening.

At halftime, the Tigers trailed 25-10.  Of those 10 points, Booker had six and freshman Jordan Roper had four.  The team’s other leading scorers, K.J. McDaniels and Milton Jennings, were absent in the first half, and not all that more present in the second.

McDaniels finished with six points, shooting an abysmal 3-for-12 from the field.  Jennings also finished with six points.

All told, the Tigers made 28.3% of its field goal attempts, and only one of their eleven attempts from three-point range.  If only one player, McDaniels, Jennings, even freshmen Adonis Filer (making his first career start) or Jordan Roper, could have been more effective offensively, more opportunities would have opened for the entire offense.

Clemson did have a brief run of success early in the second half, which ACC foes may want to note in preparing for future matchups with the Tigers.  Around the 15:00 mark, Clemson forced three consecutive Duke turnovers using a full-court press, which allowed the Tigers to get as close as 34-22 on the scoreboard.  The Blue Devils called timeout, found a more successful approach to attacking the press, and returned to dominating the game.  However, it will be interesting to see how less experienced and talented squads in the conference fare if Brad Brownell orders up the press to jump-start the Clemson offense.

TODAY’S ACC GAMES

Boston College at Virginia Tech – Boston College put up a massive fight at home against NC State Saturday.  Now they will hit the road to face a reeling Virginia Tech squad that has lost three straight blowouts.

Florida State at Maryland – The only game on the Wednesday slate featuring two teams that won their ACC opener.  Maryland will be looking for its first 2-0 ACC start since 2002-03.

Georgia Tech at NC State – NC State will look to win its ninth straight game before hosting Duke on Saturday. The Wolfpack has scored at least 80 points in nine of fourteen games, but Georgia Tech hasn’t allowed 80 points in a single game this season (NC State is 3-2 in the five games they failed to score 80 points).

Virginia at Wake Forest – After defeating North Carolina on Sunday, the Cavaliers will look to knock off another Old North State squad.  In Virginia’s last true road game, they defeated Wisconsin 60-54.

Zach Evans is brilliantZach Evans, managing editor of InsideTheACC.com, is a 2012 graduate of the University of North Carolina and a lifelong fan of the Tar Heels and follower of the ACC. Outside of the ACC, Zach is also a fan of the Atlanta Braves, the Carolina Hurricanes, the Carolina Panthers, and bad puns. He includes nailing the Final Four in his 2009 NCAA Tournament group and batting .000 during the 2011 intramural softball season among his crowning achievements. For more commentary, follow Zach on Twitter at @ztevans.

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