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Duke forward Mason Plumlee (5) scores as Minnesota's Andre Hollins (1) and Elliott Eliason (55) defend during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012, in Paradise Island, Bahamas.

John Bazemore, Associated Press

Center Plumlee is too much for Minnesota

  • Article by: JIM O'CONNELL
  • Associated Press
  • November 23, 2012 - 7:30 AM

PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas - It sounds as if Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is putting together a screenplay: "The Maturation of Mason Plumlee."

So far the reviews have been great.

Plumlee scored 20 points and grabbed a career high-matching 17 rebounds to lead No. 5 Duke to an 89-71 victory over Minnesota on Thursday in the opening round of the Battle 4 Atlantis.

The 6-foot-10 senior had four solid games this season before putting on an impressive performance against a team known for being physical and playing defense.

"Maturity is what you need to be this good," Krzyzewski said. "Most kids don't figure that out. He has. And it wasn't a case of him being immature before, he has just matured."

Seth Curry scored 25 points for Duke (4-0), which will face VCU in Friday's semifinals. The Rams beat No. 19 Memphis 78-65.

Plumlee was coming off a career-high 28 points on 9-for-11 shooting from the field, 10 of 11 from the free throw line and had nine rebounds in the Blue Devils' previous game, an 88-67 win over Florida Gulf Coast.

He was 8 of 10 from the free throw after coming in 17 of 22 (77.3 percent). That is very impressive for a guy who shot 52.8 percent from the line last season and 54.3 percent and 44.1 percent the two seasons before.

"I'm in a role that I love and feel like I am in control and confident in myself and my team," Plumlee said. "I think guys like Quinn (Cook) stepping up playing great and Ryan (Kelly) is playing better too. I think everything is heading in the right direction."

Sophomore point guard Quinn Cook had a career-high 17 points for the Blue Devils who extended their regular-season tournament winning streak to 21 games, a run that stretches to the championship game of the 2006 CBE Classic.

"My job is to communicate with everybody and be a leader," Cook said. "My teammates have confidence in me and know I can do what I have to when things break down."

Ryan Kelly had 14 points for Duke and freshman Rasheed Sulaimon, the fifth starter, added 11. The only points scored by a non-starter were the two from Amile Jefferson. Only four reserves played for Duke.

"We're not going to score that much from our bench, that's not what those guys have to do when they get in the game," Krzyzewski said. "It doesn't always have to be a certain way. These guys come in to make the hustle plays, rebound, defend. Do what we need to be done."

 

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