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The Dagger

Duke adds to the nation’s best November resume by beating Ohio State

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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Quinn Cook (Getty Images)

The last time Duke lost a home game against a nonconference opponent, gas cost under $2.00 a gallon, "The Whole Nine Yards" was No. 1 at the box office and Tom Brady had yet to win his first Super Bowl.

That streak is still intact.

Duke extended its nonleague home win streak to 97 games with a come-from-behind 73-68 victory over Ohio State in a game the Blue Devils trailed by eight points at halftime. The Blue Devils last lost to a non-ACC opponent at Cameron Indoor Stadium in February 2000 when an Erick Barkley-led St. John's team nipped Duke by one point.

By knocking fourth-ranked Ohio State from the ranks of the unbeaten, Duke added to what already is without question the nation's most impressive collection of November wins.

Even before Wednesday, the Blue Devils had already outclassed defending national champion Kentucky and ripped through Minnesota, VCU and Louisville to win the prestigious Battle 4 Atlantis tournament. They've now defeated three teams ranked in the top five and three teams which advanced to last year's Final Four.

Whereas last year Duke came out flat against Ohio State in Columbus after winning the Maui Invitational a few days earlier and lost by 20, the Blue Devils made a point of not being satisfied after their championship in the Bahamas. They shot poorly in the first half and trailed by as many as 10 points, but buoyed by a vocal home crowd, they managed to keep within striking distance.

What changed in the second half was Duke did a better job on the glass and it got much more production out of its backcourt.

Freshman Rasheed Sulaimon, scoreless in the first half, scored all 17 of his points in the second half including a critical second-half layup. Sophomore Quinn Cook, overmatched by Aaron Craft in the first half, rallied to chip in 12 points and eight assists against only three turnovers.

Those statlines and a combined 36 points from Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly helped offset a poor game from Seth Curry and another nonexistent effort from the bench. Curry had just four points on 1-for-6 shooting, while Josh Hairston contributed the only four points from the reserves.

Since many expected Duke to be a bit down this season after the loss of Austin Rivers and Miles Plumlee from last year's team, this 7-o start for the Blue Devils against elite competition comes as a bit of a surprise.

It remains to be seen whether Duke will be able to sustain this high level of play in February and March, but it's hard to argue the Blue Devils have accomplished more than any other team in November.

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