Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Duke 82, Michigan 75

[recap] [box score]

Duke won this one because they shot well for two halves, and Michigan only shot well for one (the second). The Wolverines played all sorts of defenses, and played them well, but the Devils hit a bunch of pretty tough threes. All the junk defenses in the world won't matter if your opponent hits half its threes and better than 56 percent of its shots for the game.

Duke notes: The Duke coaching staff cannot, I don't think, be happy that this win came on the backs of their guards, given that they had a pretty significant size advantage. Ryan Kelly had 17 points, but he's a stretch four who did most of his damage from outside. Miles and Mason Plumlee only got a combined five shots. They made all five, but I think they're going to have to become a bigger part of the offense if Duke is going to have long-term success ... Mason Plumlee picked up three charges in this game. After a great all-around game against Belmont, I had heightened expectations for him, and he'd disappointed ... Austin Rivers is getting better and better with each game. He's starting to look for his teammates more on penetration, and he's pulling up for more under-control floaters rather than trying tricky finishes at the basket. He relies too much on his right hand when driving left, however ... Rivers seems to have found his three-point stroke, though he's got a bit of LeBron James' fadeaway in his jumper that I don't really like.

Michigan notes: Tim Hardaway Jr. was held scoreless in the first half, but to his credit he didn't force much of anything and finished with a team-high 19 points on a respectable 6-for-14 shooting night ... Trey Burke continues to be really impressive. His penetration, passing, and finishing abilities sparked an early second-half run ... Evan Smotrycz had a really tough start to the game, committing two turnovers and two fouls in the first few minutes, helping Duke to a 9-0 start ... I generally like Michigan's 1-3-1 zone defense, but they chose to employ it around the four-minute mark when down 11 points. I think the 1-3-1 makes it too easy for the opposition to waste clock, though Duke ended up taking some uncharacteristically bad shots ... Michigan by and large managed the endgame well, scoring quickly and fouling to lengthen the game, but I thought they made a curious decision around the two-minute mark. Trailing by ten or so, they fouled Duke early in the shotclock in order to get their total for the half to six. Duke then inbounded the ball to Mason Plumlee, a poor free throw shooter, but Michigan played it straight. Only after the ball got to Seth Curry did the Wolverines foul. If you're going to foul intentionally, why not do it right away against an inferior free throw shooter? I can only assume it was some sort of miscommunication between the bench and the players, as after Michigan answered Curry's free throws with a bucket, they played honest defense on the next Duke possession.

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