Florida Gulf Coast v Duke

No. 5 Duke nips shorthanded No. 2 Cards to claim Atlantis title

Leave a comment

We learned just a few hours before tipoff that Gorgui Dieng would not play in the Battle 4 Atlantis title game. The stalwart shot blocker sat on the bench with a heavy wrap on his left wrist, relic of an awkward fall on Friday night. His absence would be telling. The Blue Devils won 76-71, led by Mason Plumlee’s 16 points in the paint. The Cards tallied a grand total of one blocked shot, though it did come from Dieng’s replacement, sophomore Zach Price.

Duke’s starting lineup contributed 73 of the team’s 76 total points in the contest, with each starter in double figures. Tyler Thornton, with a single three-pointer in 17 minutes played, contributed from the pine.

Unsurprisingly, Louisville was led by the dynamic backcourt duo of Peyton Siva (19 points, 4 assists, 6 steals) and Russ Smith (17 points, 7 rebounds), but got far less production from the frontcourt than expected. Chane Behanan, Wayne Blackshear and Price combined for just 13 points total. Luke Hancock was ice-cold off the bench, missing the only shot he took. Freshman Montrezl Harrell provided a ray of hope, scoring ten points and notching the first double-figure scoring game of his college career.

Several of the tropes we used to make our preseason predictions were put to the test in this early battle of top-five teams. Gorgui Dieng is terribly important to Louisville’s success? Check. Mason Plumlee is one of the most skilled big men in the country? Check. Peyton Siva and Russ Smith are one of the best backcourts in the nation? Check again.

Most importantly, Quinn Cook showed that he can, indeed, be the engine that makes the Blue Devils go. His 15 points and six assists against a stout perimeter defense were a very good sign, as was the 14 point performance of his youthful backcourt mate, Rasheed Sulaimon.

This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!

With this win, Duke moves to 6-0, avoiding the dispiriting losses that struck fellow ACC contenders UNC and NC State in November. Their reward for defeating the nation’s No. 2 team isn’t very appetizing, however. The Devils hop on a plane in a few hours to get ready for No. 3 Ohio State on November 28th.

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.

PHOTO: Ohio State’s new LeBron James shoe display

during the College Football Playoff National Championship Game at AT&T Stadium on January 12, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.
Leave a comment

Ohio State has capitalized on its close relationship with NBA superstar LeBron James over the years and now has a new shoe display that should come in handy during recruiting.

The Buckeyes put out a tweet late this week with the display, calling themselves “THE LeBron school.” While this is something small, recruits like that the Buckeyes are tied into the best player in the world and it’s cool to them that Ohio State gets some exclusive gear.

Rutgers hoping new duo can bring a spark

of the Ohio State Buckeyes against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights during their Big Ten conference game at Rutgers Athletic Center on February 8, 2015 in Piscataway, New Jersey.
Leave a comment

Rutgers has struggled to achieve success on the floor the last few years and head coach Eddie Jordan is hoping that some talented newcomers can help start a turnaround. With the start of practice, local media saw some of the Scarlet Knights’ early practice and Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press noted that the duo of freshman point guard Corey Sanders and junior college forward Deshawn Freeman were getting a lot of burn together.

With both incoming players being four-star prospects, it’s hardly a surprise that Jordan would see what the two were capable of. According to Carino, it meant a lot of Sanders driving and forcing the defense to collapse before finding Freeman.

“It seems like coach always has us on the same team,” Freeman said to Carino. “Ever since we’ve gotten here, he’s trying to get us to play together.”

Carino also notes that since Rutgers is deeper, longer and more athletic in general this season, the team could do more with a pressing defense to help create turnovers.

While Rutgers still faces an uphill climb in the Big Ten, they at least have some exciting pieces that will be in place for a few seasons.