Posted: 11/16/2011 6:22:43 AM
It is easy to lose in all the pomp and circumstance of Mike Krzyzewski's 903rd win, is the outstanding play of Andre Dawkins.
The junior guard has had an up and down career going through periods of extreme highs and lows, but Tuesday night against the Michigan State Spartans Dawkins lived up to his Twitter handle Dre_Day20, because it was truly all Dre all day.
Dawkins came out hot and pretty much stated that way hitting 6-10 from three point range, 2-5 from inside the arc and 4-4 from the free throw line on his way to 26 points. But that wasn't all the junior did as he also grabbed five rebounds and recorded two steals.
He made some opportunistic plays and showed his ability to put the ball on the floor and made some timely and heady plays. It was clearly he best all-around game of his career.
The hot hand of Dawkins pretty much kept Duke in the game early when it appeared that the game would be a slug fest and in the early going it was the Spartans that were winning the physical battle.
The Blue Devils were struggling to get second shots and only recorded three offensive rebounds. If it weren't for Dawkins who had 14 points at the half, this game may have very well gone in a much different direction.
Thankfully, for Duke, Dawkins got some help from his friend in the second half. Most of the help came from Seth Curry who scored 20 points on 4-7 shooting (2-4 3pt) and 10-12 from the free throw line.
Add in fellow captain Ryan Kelly who scored 14 points off the bench and started the second half for a foul plagued and ineffective Miles Plumlee, and those three combined for 60 of Duke's 74 points.
The second half saw Duke come out much more aggressive and instead of being limited to one shot possessions they were limiting Michigan State to one shot possessions. By the end of the game Duke had shrank the rebounding margin and were only done by a 30-28 margin.
At halftime Krzyzewski apparently challenged his team physically to come out and match the Spartans and they did just that.
There is still a lot of work to be done but one major improvement has to be the defense, which in longer spurts than the previous two games, was very good and at times stifling.
It was a rough night for the brother's Plumlee who struggled with the Spartan's front line. It was also a struggle for freshman sensation Austin Rivers who had his worst outing as a Blue Devil and appeared visibly frustrated.
Moving forward with the pressure of winning 903 over, Duke can focus on getting better. They did blow a 20 point lead and allow the Spartans to get back into the game late but overall it was a dominating second half performance that this young team can certainly build on.
More to come from the Duke Sports Blog on the record setting victory and what it means for Duke going forward.
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