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Monday, March 25, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Duke 66, Creighton 50

By Dana O'Neil


PHILADELPHIA -- A quick look at Duke's 66-50 win over the Creighton Bluejays in the second round of the NCAA tournament:

Overview:  Mason Plumlee owned the Duke headlines early this season, getting attention as a national player of the year candidate. Ryan Kelly captured the attention of the Blue Devil faithful late, with near manic fretting over his foot injury.

In between, Seth Curry kept going, playing on a balky leg of his own, in fact.  Maybe now that it’s March it will be his turn to get the spotlight as Duke heads to the Sweet 16 for the fourth time in five seasons.

The senior scored 19 points in an unexpected fight of a game against Creighton. On paper, this game looked like it should have been a more high-scoring, offensive affair. Instead, it caught the same flu as most of the 2012-13 season: Points were hard to come by, with leads small and uncomfortable rather than big and cushy.

Which made the points Curry scored -- especially with Plumlee saddled with foul trouble -- all the more critical.

Turning point: This was more of a slow and methodical move to victory than a mad-dash moment. The Blue Devils could never put Creighton entirely out of the picture, but they did get a bit of a cushion midway through the second half. Curry (of course) drained a 3-pointer and followed it with a layup to put Duke up 39-30. The Bluejays didn’t stop coming, but that little gap proved huge for the Devils.

Key player: Curry, with a big assist from Rasheed Sulaimon. Both scored 19 points to lead the Blue Devils. The slight nod goes to Curry because his points came at such critical times.

Key stat: Two for 17. That’s what Creighton shot from the 3-point line, and while the Blue Devils' shooting wasn't pretty (they hit only seven of 20), that huge discrepancy proved to be the difference in the game. The Bluejays were thoroughly cold, which made them thoroughly ineffective offensively and, ultimately, thoroughly beatable.

Next: Duke will play third-seeded Michigan State in the Sweet 16 on Friday in Indianapolis.