Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Blue Devil's Corner: Tyler Thornton? Fo Sho

"Tyler one 3 and then another 3 k? Thanks!"

Wow...that is about all I can say after that ball game.  Duke came out on top 68-61, which in itself isn't that surprising.  It was the way they won that has me in a bit of a shocked state and awake writing this as the clock clicks over the Thanksgiving morning.  I can't sleep after that game.  I am pumped.  Duke just beat a top 15 team with only one of it's starting guards scoring in double figures!  That is shocking to me.  If you had told me prior to this game that Rivers would score 10, Curry 9 and Dawkins 6, I would've told you that Duke would lose that game.  But that is just what those three produced and Duke won being led by Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly...oh and sealing it with huge shots by...Tyler Thornton...yeah...Tyler Thornton.

Lots to talk about and I honestly will forget some of the points I thought of while I watched the game, but let's take a look at some things I will take from this game:

- "Mason Plumlee played like a man"
Coach K had that to say after the game was over.  I have to agree with 17 points, 12 rebounds and 2 blocks.  Mason has improved this year and that was good to see, but to see Mason have a game like this against Kansas, against Thomas Robinson who is a stud and to also make plays in the clutch?  That is so exciting as a Duke fan, and as a guy who wrote that if Mason steps his game up this year Duke is a title contender.  This is really just such a huge game for Mason, a confidence builder that maybe he didn't even need.  The kid was very confident in this game, calling for the ball, making crisp and concise moves, smart defensive plays against Robinson and really just overall playing a great game.  Well now he gets a break...oh up Jared up Mason.

-Coach K did you really want Thornton in there at the end of the game over Rivers?  Really?
It is easy to say that it was the right decision as Thornton hit two threes in the final minutes, one put Duke up 2 and the other but them up 5.  On the first possession Tyler's shot wasn't a bad shot, it was just a surprise that with 23 seconds left on the shot clock he would so confidently just pull the trigger with Duke down 1 with only a little over a minute left in the game.  The possession came after a Kansas three, Duke had two timeouts and I assumed with the amount of time left K would take a timeout to set things up and also then bring in Austin Rivers for Tyler.  That would get the best 1-1 player into the game and have offensive options at every position.  Instead K let his team play and Thornton rewarded his confidence. 

The second shot came after a Tyshawn Taylor turnover (Which one? His 11th one.) and again K decided to pass on taking a timeout, up 1 with one minute left.  So again Duke had a huge offensive possession with Thornton on the court instead of Austin Rivers.  After working the shot clock all the way down, it was looking like a blunder for K.  With no player on the court adept at creating his own shot 1-1, Seth Curry was floundering to find an opening and with 3 seconds left on the shot clock kicked it to Thornton who was almost out of bounds on near the Duke bench.  Thornton let if fly, and it touched nothing but the bottom of the net as the shot clock buzzer went off.  An amazing play, amazingly lucky I think for K as if that ball doesn't go in and Kansas then goes down and ties or takes the lead and Duke goes on to lose many would question why he doesn't have Rivers in on that possession. 

-Ryan Kelly is a stud and the MVP of the Maui Invite.
 This kid can do it all and did it again tonight.  He played great defense, played great on offense even on a night when his shot wasn't even as reliable as it usually is.  If Kelly and Mason can play like they did tonight now all of the sudden Duke's starting five is looking very scary.

-Sorry Tyshawn...nahh not really.
Earlier today I wrote about Tyshawn Taylor in a...not so nice way.  Taylor played pretty well tonight with 17 points and 4 assists.  So maybe I should take back what I said in that post.  In the words of Lee Corso, "Not so fast my friends," Taylor also had 11 turnovers and a very costly one just prior to Thornton's desperate three that put Duke up 5 with 20 seconds left.  Taylor doesn't suck, I'll admit that, but I still think he is highly overrated for what he has produced in his 3+ years at Kansas.

It's bed time kids!  I cannot wait for turkey, but even more I can't wait to see Duke head to Columbus and take on the Buckeyes next Tuesday.  It should be a battle much like this one was.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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