KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP)—If Mason Plumlee keeps playing like this he won’t just be known as one of the “big brothers” on top-ranked Duke.
The 6-foot-10 sophomore scored a career-high 25 points had 12 rebounds and six blocks to lead Duke to an 82-77 victory over Marquette in the semifinals of the CBE Classic on Monday night.
The younger of the two brothers on the Blue Devils’ roster—6-11 Miles is a junior—dominated inside all game and scored 14 points after Marquette tied the game for the last time at 57-all.
“Of course you always want the ball as a player,” the native of Warsaw, Ind. said. “I just wanted to stay within the plays that were called and my opportunities were there. They did a good job of hitting me. … I think it was our defense mainly that pulled it out for us.”
He was a big part of that as well with the career-high six blocks and half of his 12 rebounds—two off his career high—were on the defensive end.
Plumlee wasn’t ready to call this a breakout performance for the Blue Devils (4-0).
“It’s early in the season. The first couple of games were good, but we looked at coming here as our first real test,” Plumlee said. “I know personally I did too. It’s a decent start.”
The Blue Devils took a big early lead then saw Marquette (4-1) tie it three times before Duke went on a 9-0 run that gave it the cushion it needed down the stretch on the way to the reigning national champion’s 14th consecutive win.
“I thought we started out well, got a 23-9 (lead), but we didn’t built on it. It was almost like we got happy, like it was just going to come. Those kids from Marquette they started turning us over,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “… I thought the best seven minutes of the game were from the 10-minute mark to the three-minute mark for us. There was a lot of game pressure. The game got tied. I thought our kids responded beautifully to that type of pressure.”
The Blue Devils took the 14-point lead with 11:15 to play in the first half. Duke was still ahead 40-31 at halftime but the Golden Eagles were able to tie the game three times but never took the lead.
The last tie was 57-all on a baseline jumper by Jae Crowder with 10:28 to play. The Blue Devils scored the next nine points—four by Plumlee—and the Golden Eagles didn’t have another run in them, especially when Plumlee took over.
“Mason, obviously, was outstanding. We got him the ball. He made some simple great moves down there. Mason’s performance tonight was huge,” Krzyzewski said.
Miles Plumlee had two points and two rebounds in 10 minutes for Duke, which will have a third Plumlee next season as 7-0 Marshall Plumlee has signed a letter of intent to attend Duke.
Nolan Smith had 18 points for Duke and Kyle Singler added 14 while freshman Kyrie Irving had 11 points and seven assists.
Jimmy Butler led Marquette, which was 4 of 20 on 3-pointers, with 22 points and Crowder added 15.
“I don’t know if you can pick a poison because everyone is poisonous,” Marquette coach Buzz Williams said of the Blue Devils. “Five (Mason Plumlee) just wore us out. He’s really a good player. They all present challenges to us. Plumlee is good off the bounce. Plumlee can hold his position. He has as many offensive rebounds (six) as he had defensive rebounds. I would say of those six offensive rebounds, he scored four of them, so 33 percent of his points come on put backs. You can’t do that.”
This is the seventh straight season Duke has started 4-0 and it is the 21st time it has had that record in Mike Krzyzewski’s 32 seasons. This was Krzyzewski’s 799th win at Duke and his 872nd overall, four behind Adolph Rupp on the all-time list.
The win extended Duke’s November winning streak 26 games with the last loss being to Marquette in the finals of 2006 CBE Classic.
The Golden Eagles dropped to 1-7 all-time versus No. 1 teams and 2-6 against Duke.
Although Duke built its early lead on 3-pointers in consecutive trips by Irving, Singler and Seth Curry, Plumlee was the one who made things tough inside on both ends of the court for Marquette.
His fastbreak dunk and move down low capped the 9-0 run that gave the Blue Devils a 66-57 lead with 8:46 to go.
“I think we didn’t get back like we planned to get back (on defense). We took a lot of unexpected shots,” Butler said of not being to take advantage of tying it for the last time. “We let up in a lot of different areas in our game that we don’t need to be doing.”
The final score was as close as Marquette would get and that came about with a sloppy final minute by both teams.