Mike Krzyzewski's Duke Blue Devils found a way to stave off Rick Pitino's Louisville Cardinals in the finals of the 2012 Battle 4 Atlantis, and Duke took home the title after winning this top-five clash in the Bahamas.
Duke was once again led by its starters, who scored 73 of the team's 76 points en route to a 76-71 victory. Mason Plumlee led the team in scoring with 17, but every starter went for at least 14 points, with Quinn Cook's six assists making him the tournament leader.
Louisville's impressive backcourt of Peyton Siva and Russ Smith were fantastic once again, combining for 36 points, nine rebounds, five assists and six steals. However, the team didn't move the ball well, recording just six assists against a tough Duke defense.
Louisville failed to take advantage of Duke's lack of depth, and now it looks like the Blue Devils will vault up the rankings this week after beating a second team ranked in the top five this season, having already taken down John Calipari's No. 3 Kentucky Wildcats.
Duke has been on fire this season despite its over-reliance on its starters and lack of true big men other than senior Mason Plumlee.
The team reminds me of the Kansas Jayhawks from last season, who made it all the way to the NCAA finals before losing to Kentucky (although the lack of size does not apply).
Let's take a closer look at how everything went down on Paradise Island.
Duke fans arrived in style in the Bahamas, ready for a top-five matchup with Louisville
Duke Basketball (@dukeblueplanet) November 25, 2012
However, that was the best things Duke fans did, with just about everyone calling out the Duke fans at the game.
Cameron Lazies at their finest, I knew my nickname was spot on “@sethdavishoops: Duke section is napping. Somebody fly in Crazy Towel Guy.”— Brandon Alness (@VCUBA5693) November 25, 2012
Seth Davis noticed just what makes this Duke team special, seeing that each player knows his role, which was not the case last season with Austin Rivers, Seth Curry and Ryan Kelly's roles being questioned.
Duke players have established roles more than almost any other team right now. Big advantage in Nov, less so in March.— Seth Davis (@SethDavisHoops) November 25, 2012
Last but certainly not least, Dick Vitale weighed in, praising Duke for its difficult wins to date.
Duke owns Kentucky with W's over top 5 at the time UK & Louisville - will be Team of the week & Illinois John Groce my coach of the week— Dick Vitale (@DickieV) November 25, 2012
Is it just me or do you read all of Dickie V's tweets with his voice inside your head?
Player of the Game: PG Quinn Cook, Duke
The sophomore point guard for Duke played his heart out in a difficult matchup against Peyton Siva, who is one of the best point guards in the country.
Cook went for 15 points and six assists for the Blue Devils, providing instant offense and making sure that the team's offense was running smoothly.
Cook was at his best during the entire tournament, recording 28 assists in four games to lead the entire field. He showed up once again for Duke on Saturday.
Louisville has some time to rebound from this loss, with three easy games coming up on the schedule. The Cardinals then play No. 19 Memphis, who looked ugly during the Battle 4 Atlantis, before playing two more easy games and then taking on rival Kentucky on December 29 to close out its non-conference schedule.
Duke, on the other hand, has finished most of its difficult November schedule, which included games against No. 3 Kentucky, Minnesota, VCU and No. 2 Louisville, going undefeated. Now the team has to beat No. 3 Ohio State to close out the month undefeated, and a victory would essentially ensure a No. 1 ranking.
Louisville could easily lose another game or two before Big East play starts, but Duke should manage to get through its non-conference schedule undefeated if it can top OSU, and could be the nation's No. 1 team if it does so.
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