You have to love the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Thad Matta after the loss at Duke
It is because of this annual event we get to see great early season college basketball games like the one No. 2 Duke and No. 4 Ohio State played Wednesday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C.
It is too early to say whether what we saw here will be a preview of the 2013 Final Four in Atlanta in April. But when the dust settled the Blue Devils had pulled out a hard fought 73-68 win over the Buckeyes before 9,314 Cameron Crazies and a national television audience on ESPN.
Duke (7-0) battled back from a 10-point first-half deficit to take the win – its 97th straight home nonconference win. The Big Ten and ACC split the annual challenge with six wins apiece. Coming off three wins in three days at the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in The Bahamas, the Blue Devils won a fourth game in seven days – a fact not lost on legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski.
“We had a great game tonight,” Krzyzewski said. “Ohio State is a really good, veteran team, unbelievably coached, and they play a very physical defense. We had not faced anybody like that.
“My guys are unbelievable to win this game. They beat a heck of a team.”
Center Mason Plumlee was the man of this match with 21 points and 17 rebounds to lead the Blue Devils.
Freshman guard Rasheed Sulaimon scored all of his 17 points in the second half for the Blue Devils, while Ryan Kelly added 15 points. Quinn Cook had 10 points as well.
As bad as Duke was in the first half – shooting 30 percent (6 of 20) from the floor and going 10-1/2 minutes without a made field goal – the Blue Devils were that much better in the second. They shot 58.1 percent from the floor (18 of 31), including 4 of 5 on their three-point attempts, in the decisive second half.
Deshaun Thomas and Aaron Craft after the loss at Duke
“We got knocked back in that first half, but we played a great second half,” Krzyzewski said.
Kelly hit a pair of threes just 33 seconds apart to reverse a three-point deficit into a three-point Duke lead with 6:15 left. The Blue Devils never trailed after that point and held tough down the stretch to finish the Buckeyes off.
“We were kind of hoping (Kelly) hadn’t found his rhythm yet and he obviously did tonight,” said OSU coach Thad Matta. “They scored two times in a row on the same play. We knew the play was coming and we didn’t guard it the way we were supposed to guard it.”
Deshaun Thomas led Ohio State (4-1) with 16 points, hitting 6 of 14 shots from the floor and 3 of his 6 three-pointers.
“We had to get some stops,” Thomas said of OSU’s second half demise. “We did not get the stops when we needed down the stretch. For me, I got great shots that I needed and I contested their shots as well.
“It’s toughness. We have to know we have to get stops. We were up five with eight minutes to go. The plan was to try and get me the ball. We knew they would be hugged up on me. (Aaron) Craft had the freedom off of my pick.”
It was a tough game for the OSU backcourt of juniors Aaron Craft and Lenzelle Smith. They each finished with 11 points, but Craft was 3 of 15 from the floor and Smith was 4 of 12.
“Anytime you lose, you’re going to be frustrated and go over every play,” Craft said. “I didn’t play the greatest. We have another game Saturday. We have to find a way to get better and come back from this.
Mason Plumlee led Duke past OSU and Amir Williams
“We showed we can compete in the toughest of atmospheres. We have young guys who haven’t experienced this. We have to find a way to move on.”
As a team, OSU shot a dismal 33.8 percent (23 of 68) from the floor and 28.6 percent (6 of 21) behind the three-point line.
“You can’t come in here and shoot 34 percent,” Matta said. “If you had told me we were going to shoot 34 percent, I would have said we would have been run out of the gym tonight.”
But that did not happen. OSU stayed right with Duke for 40 minutes. Craft had fouled out in the final minute. The Buckeyes trailed 68-64 inside the final 30 seconds and had the ball. OSU had a chance to get it down to two or even one, but backup point guard Shannon Scott lost control of his dribble out of bounds with 20 seconds left. Duke iced it by making 5 of its last 6 free throws to end it.
Still, Matta was not looking for any silver linings after this close call at Cameron.
“I’m not happy,” the OSU coach said. “I think we go home and look at this thing there and there are some areas where we had chances to make plays and we didn’t make plays. Yeah, it’s early in the season but we have to make some of those.”
The Ohio State defense held Duke to 30 percent shooting (6 of 20) in the first half. The Blue Devils went nearly 10-1/2 minutes without a field goal. OSU led Duke 31-23 at the half despite playing the last 10 minites of the half with Thomas on the bench with two fouls and Craft out the last 4:39 for the same reason.
The Buckeyes weren’t much better in the first 20 minutes as they made just 32.4 percent of their shots (11 of 34), but they held a 22-16 rebounding edge and took advantage of 11 offensive rebounds in the half. Thomas had eight points and Smith scored seven in that first half.
Duke got out to a quick 6-2 lead after a pair of Plumlee baskets and a 16-foot jumper by Ryan Kelly. But OSU rallied and tied it at 9-9 on a Thomas three-point play with 14:16 left in the half. That play started OSU on an 11-2 run. That run also included a Craft three from the right corner after he tracked down a loose ball, a Thomas three off a Shannon Scott pass on the break and Thomas converting a Duke turnover into a jumper in the lane. OSU led 18-11 with 10:38 left in the half.
Moments later, though, Thomas was whistled for his second foul taking a charge. He missed the last 10 minutes of the half.
The Buckeyes played on without their leading scorer. They turned up the defense, holding Duke without a field goal for 10 minutes, 24 seconds. LaQuinton Ross filled in for Thomas and scored five quick points, rebounding his own wild shot and then splashing a three from the top of the key. OSU led 24-16 with 6:45 left in the half.
Scott had a steal and layup for a 26-18 lead with 5:21 left. Duke’s Josh Hairston broke the field goal drought with a rebound basket to cut the lead to 26-21 with 4:11 left in the half. But the Buckeyes – now playing without Thomas and Craft – answered the call.
Smith drove for a clutch jumper in the lane, Scott hit 1 of 2 free throws and Williams had two free throws to make it 31-21 with 1:13 left. Duke’s Quinn Cook capped the scoring with a rebound basket with 58 seconds left, cutting the OSU halftime lead to 31-23. The Buckeyes had one more defensive stand in the closing seconds of the half, leaving Duke with just two field goals in the final 14-1/2 minutes of the half.
Williams came off the OSU bench and was big with three points and seven rebounds in the first half. Ross had five of his nine points in the first half.
“I thought that LaQuinton was really, really good,” Matta said. “I should have probably gotten him in there earlier in the second half. Shannon went a long stretch and Amir came in and gave us really, really good minutes as well.”
Duke immediately got back in the game in the second half with Cook throwing a high alley oop to Plumlee for a one-handed ram that cut the OSU lead to 33-27 with 17:43 left.
Duke’s Rasheed Sulaimon then got hot. He hit a three and Kelly followed with a jumper in the lane to cut it to 37-34 with 14:40 left.
“They were running isolations for him,” Craft said of Sulaimon. “He was tough to stop when he got into a rhythm.”
OSU came back with a Sam Thompson rebound basket and a three by Thomas to make it 42-34 with 12:58 left.
But Duke whittled it down to two at 46-44 after a driving one-handed shot by Curry with 9:57 left.
Thomas came back with a three in the right corner for a 51-46 OSU lead with 8:25 left.
Duke’s Sulaimon made 1 of 2 free throws and then hit a three from the top of the key to cut it to 51-50 with 6:50 left. But Craft went to Evan Ravenel on the block. His floater put OSU up 53-50.
But Duke came right back with Kelly drilling a three from the right wing to tie it at 53-53 with 6:11 left.
After a Craft miss, Kelly canned another three on an inbounds play to give Duke its first lead in 29 minutes at 56-53 with 5:37 left. This was especially galling as it came right out of a timeout.
“Possessions after timeouts, we haven’t been the greatest offensively or defensively,” Craft said. “A great team like Duke they are going to make you pay and they did.”
Craft was fouled on a drive. He made 1 of 2 free throws to trim Duke’s lead to 56-54. But Duke surged ahead by four as Plumlee had an impressive follow dunk on a Cook miss to make it 58-54 with 4:04 left.
Craft drove and hit a jumper in the lane to cut it to 58-56 with 3:15 left. The teams then traded point-blank misses – one by Duke’s Kelly and one by OSU’s Craft – before Duke called timeout with 2:31 left.
Plumlee was fouled on a shot attempt. His two free throws made it 60-56 with 2:22 left. Craft was fouled on a shot attempt with 2:11 left. He made 1 of 2 to cut it to 60-57.
Duke milked the shot clock before Cook drove down the lane and made a layup over a late recovering Williams for a 62-57 lead with 1:40 left.
Thomas then missed a three from the right corner. Duke’s Sulaimon corralled the rebound and headed the other way. His layup was goal tended, putting Duke up 64-57 with 1:16 left.
OSU’s Williams was fouled and made 1 of 2 free throws. But Duke broke the press and Sulaimon threw down a dunk for a 66-58 lead with 1:03 left.
Craft was fouled on a drive. His two free throws cut it to 66-60 with 54.1 seconds left. After Duke missed a free throw, OSU’s Ross was fouled. His two free throws cut it to 66-62 with 38.8 seconds left.
Duke’s Curry then missed a front end of a one-and-one. Scott drove and was fouled with 28.9 seconds left. His two free throws trimmed the Duke lead to 66-64.
Scott then fouled Duke’s Cook on the inbound play. His two free throws put Duke up 68-64 with 27.3 seconds left. Scott then lost the handle and the ball went out of bounds to Duke.
Cook went to the line with 19.3 seconds left. His two free throws iced it.
* Ravenel added eight points, Scott had five with three assists and Thompson and Williams each had four points. Williams had a career-high 10 rebounds.
* Duke now leads the all-time series with Ohio State 4-3. The teams are 2-2 on neutral sites and 1-1 in Columbus. This was OSU’s first visit to Durham and the famed Cameron Indoor Stadium, built in 1940.
Ohio State won the last meeting, 85-63, in Columbus during the 2011 ACC/Big Ten Challenge as the Buckeyes were ranked No. 2 and the Blue Devils were No. 3. Duke’s last win over the Buckeyes came on Dec. 3, 2002, a 91-76 win at the Greensboro Coliseum. That was also an ACC/Big Ten game. Prior to that game, the schools’ last meeting came on Dec. 29, 1978, at the ECAC Holiday Tournament in New York, where OSU knocked off then-No. 1 Duke 90-84 in overtime.
* Ohio State is now 38-27 all-time against ACC opponents.
* Over the last 40 years, Ohio State is 4-14 on the road against top-five ranked opponents.
* The Buckeyes are now 7-6 overall against top-five teams under Thad Matta.
* Duke has won a school-record 97 straight home games at Cameron. Duke’s last home non-ACC loss was to St. John’s on Feb. 26, 2000.
OSU is now 6-6 all-time in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The Buckeyes had won their last four games in the Challenge.
* Krzyzewski is now 2-1 against OSU with this win and those two previous ACC/Big Ten games, while Matta is 1-2 against Duke. Besides last year’s win at OSU, his 2004 Xavier team lost to Duke in an NCAA regional final
* Duke is now 12-2 all-time in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and leads all teams in wins and winning percentage. The Blue Devils are 5-0 when playing ACC/Big Ten Challenge games in Cameron Indoor Stadium.
* Duke has won 56 of its last 57 games in the month of November dating back to the start of the 2004-05 season. The lone loss was last season to Ohio State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
* Under Matta, OSU is now 112-21 in nonconference games and 43-6 in November games.
* The Buckeyes return home and host Northern Kentucky (0-4) on Saturday (4:30 p.m., Big Ten Network). That will be the first of seven straight home games leading up to the start of Big Ten play.
Also Check Out
Click here for the OSU-Duke box score.
Click here for Dave Biddle’s What We Learned column.
Click here for our game story with notes, quotes and postgame videos.