In the days leading into the NCAA tournament, West region No. 13 seed UNCW was one team people labeled as a possibility to pull an upset. Kevin Keatts’ team had depth and a full-court pressure system that could give a Duke team that lacked depth problems. What the Seahawks didn’t have was a big man who could handle senior 7-footer Marshall Plumlee, who rebounded from a subpar first half to help lead the Blue Devils to a 93-85 win in Providence.
Plumlee finished the game with 23 points and eight rebounds, with the point total being a career-high, and he made nine of his ten field goal attempts on the day.
Plumlee was more aggressive in the second half, with the majority of his points coming off of pick and rolls and offensive rebounds. His improved play influenced Duke’s other players as well, as the Blue Devils did a better job of attacking the UNCW pressure. There were more shot attempts around the rim for Mike Krzyzewski’s team, and they attempted 27 free throws in the second half against a team that committed more fouls than any other Division I program this season.
Brandon Ingram, who was a matchup problem for the Seahawks in his own right, finished with 20 points and nine rebounds and Grayson Allen tallied 23 points himself. Duke outscored UNCW 31-14 from the foul line, with Ingram (ten points) and Allen (15) responsible for 25 of those points. UNCW couldn’t turn the Blue Devils over enough, and they struggled with stopping Duke off the dribble as well.
Senior guard Craig Ponder led four Seahawks in double figures with 22 points, with Chris Flemmings adding 18, Denzel Ingram 17 and C.J. Bryce 16.
Next up for Duke, which extended its NCAA tournament win streak to seven with this victory, will be either No. 5 sed Baylor or No. 12 seed Yale on Saturday.