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Game Preview: Duke vs. Ohio State

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Duke will need another stellar defensive effort out of Ryan Kelly against Ohio State. Credit: JOHN BAZEMORE/AP

Duke vs. Ohio State

When: 9:35 p.m.

Where: Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham

TV/Radio: ESPN/WKIX-102.9 FM

Theme: Revenge

Projected starting lineups:

No. 2 Duke (6-0)

G Quinn Cook, So., 10.7 ppg, 3.3 apg

G Seth Curry, Sr., 17.0 ppg, Sr., 2.3 rpg

G Rasheed Sulaimon, Fr., 12.0 ppg, 5.2 rpg

F Ryan Kelly, Sr., 11.8 ppg, 5.2 rpg

F Mason Plumlee, Sr., 19.7 ppg, 10.0 rpg

No. 4 Ohio State (4-0)

G Aaron Craft, Jr., 14.3 ppg, 5.3 apg

G Lenzelle Smith Jr., Jr., 11.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg

F Deshaun Thomas, Jr., 24.0 ppg, 7.3 rpg

F Sam Thompson, So., 5.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg

F Evan Ravenel, Sr., 5.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg

Players to watch

Mason Plumlee, Duke

After Duke’s win over then-No. 2 Louisville—the Blue Devils’ third game in as many days—coach Mike Krzyzewski said he thought everyone was exhausted. That was fairly obvious throughout the second half of the game as well.

If Duke is going to avoid a Bahamas hangover, Mason Plumlee will likely have to post a double-double and play like the player of the year candidate that he’s become. Ohio State has a size advantage with is three lengthy forwards, so Plumlee will need to consistently pull down rebounds to limit the Buckeyes’ second-chance points.

Plumlee also needs to continue his remarkable free throw shooting. A career 50.5 percent free throw shooter entering this year, Plumlee is shooting 80 percent from the line this season. He is averaging 7.5 trips to the line per game—Duke would likely benefit if that number would rise.


***Ryan Kelly probably drew the toughest defensive assignment. He has to shut down Ohio State’s leading scorer, the 6-foot-7, 225-pound Deshaun Thomas. The junior leads the Buckeyes with an average of 24 points per game and 7.3 rebounds per contest as well.

As the preview story notes, Kelly is no stranger to tough defensive assignments. Mason Plumlee noted that same thing to the media Tuesday.

“Ryan has had some big matchup already this season,” Plumlee said. “He guarded Rodney Williams from Minnesota. He guarded (Kyle) Wiltjer from Kentucky. He’s played good 4s. He’s played athletes, shooters, and Deshaun is both of those. Ryan is going to be big for us.”

Kelly held Wiltjer to a season-low five points in the Kentucky game. And if you want or need evidence of Williams’s athleticism, check out this ridiculous dunk he had Tuesday night at Florida State.

Williams did score a season-high 16 points against Duke. Kelly was able to block three shots against the Gophers, adding to his team-high 14. Ten of those came in the Bahamas.

***Seth Curry, continuing to nurse of right shin injury, practiced Tuesday. He said his leg doesn’t feel as rested as it did entering the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, but, as head coach Mike Krzyzewski noted Saturday, healing time is coming soon.

Curry is a vital piece to the Duke offense, as he is averaging 17 points per game (second-best on the team)

***Duke has won its last 96 non-conference games at home (a school record), a streak that dates back to Feb. 26, 2000, when the Blue Devils lost to St. Johns. Ohio State will be the biggest threat to the streak since Dec. 1, 2010, when then-No. 6 Michigan State came to Cameron in the ACC-Big 10 Challenge. Kyrie Irving scored 31 points as Duke won 84-79.

***Duke is 11-2 in the ACC-Big 10 Challenge and leads all teams in win and winning percentage.

***Greg Paulus will make his first trip back to Cameron as a member of an opposing squad. The former Duke guard, who graduated in 2009, is in his second year as the video coordinator for the Buckeyes.

***This will be the third top-five opponent for Duke this season. The Blue Devils already have wins against then-No. 3 Kentucky and then-No. 2 Louisville. Kelly said that extra ice and recovery efforts are necessary due to the high level of competition and physicality in these big games. No Duke players, though, had any complaints.

“Personally, to me, it’s easy to get up for these games,” Plumlee said. “It would be harder to get up for some other games. We feel like we’re supposed to win every game but there’s a difference between playing this game and an exhibition game. It’s harder for me to get up for an exhibition game. These are the games that you love. And this is a team that loves these kinds of games, guarding by how we’ve played so far this season.”    

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About the blogger

Laura Keeley is the Duke beat writer for the News & Observer. Follow her on Twitter @laurakeeley