Duke Basketball: Top 5 Highlights of the 2012-13 Season for the Blue Devils

David Aldridge@davidmaldridgeFeatured ColumnistApril 3, 2013

Duke Basketball: Top 5 Highlights of the 2012-13 Season for the Blue Devils

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    The 2012-13 season has come to an end for the Duke basketball program, but it was another exciting year for Mike Krzyzewski and his team.

    The Blue Devils finished the season with a 30-6 record and went 14-4 in the ACC, which by most people's standard is an extremely successful year. However, with the expectations and pressure that Duke faces every season, many will consider this season a failure because Duke didn't win the national championship.

    Despite the 22-point loss to Louisville in the Elite Eight, Duke fans can reflect back on this season at many of the great moments this team was part of.

    Let's do that by looking at the top five highlights for the 2012-13 season for the Blue Devils.

    These highlights are ranked based on what it meant for the team at the time and the quality of play that was exhibited.

5. Beating Ohio State in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge

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    When Duke played Ohio State in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge on November 28, it was the Blue Devils' fifth consecutive game against teams that would eventually reach the NCAA tournament.

    The game against the Buckeyes also marked the fourth game over a span of seven days for Duke.

    Early on, it looked like Ohio State would come away with the victory in Cameron Indoor Stadium as the Buckeyes had a 31-23 lead at halftime. But Rasheed Sulaimon took over and scored all 17 of his points in the second half while leading Duke to a 73-68 victory.

    The win was a coming out party for Sulaimon on the national stage and also solidified the Blue Devils as the No. 1 team in the country at the time.

4. Seth Curry Shooting Down Michigan State in the Sweet 16

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    In the hype leading up to the Sweet 16 showdown between Mike Krzyzewski and Tom Izzo, much was made about how Duke would get frustrated with the physical play of Michigan State.

    Instead, Seth Curry frustrated the Michigan State players by knocking down three-point shots no matter what defense the Spartans tried on him.

    Curry scored 29 points and shot 6-for-9 from beyond the three-point line. At one point, Duke's senior sharpshooter scored nine points during an 11-2 run and his outside touch kept Michigan State at bay all night.

    Curry's impressive performance helped Duke advance to the Elite Eight while improving Mike Krzyzewski's record to 3-1 against Tom Izzo in the NCAA tournament.

3. Winning the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament

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    The Battle 4 Atlantis tournament featured an outstanding collection of teams for an early season tournament

    In order to win the championship, Duke had to defeat Minnesota, VCU and Louisville on three consecutive days.

    The game against Louisville was a battle of two of the elite teams in college basketball this year and the two went back-and-forth before the Blue Devils emerged as the victor and tournament champion.

    Quinn Cook was named the MVP of the tournament and made some huge plays for his team down the stretch, including hitting a shot with 27 seconds to play to give Duke a five point lead.

    With his play in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, Quinn Cook proved he was ready to embrace the responsibility that comes with playing point guard at Duke.

2. Crushing UNC in the Dean Dome

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    The final game of the regular season was supposed to be the opportunity for North Carolina to catch Duke in the ACC standings and continue its positive momentum going into the postseason.

    The Blue Devils erased any possibility of this happening before the game's first television timeout. Duke jumped out to a 14-0 lead before the Tar Heels scored their first point and the outcome was all but decided.

    Duke's defense forced North Carolina into a 1-for-14 shooting night from three-point range and Roy Williams spent the entire game searching for answers.

    The win marked a regular season sweep of the Tar Heels and gave Duke it's first road win of the season with Ryan Kelly in the lineup.

1. Ryan Kelly's Return Against Miami

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    The contest between Duke and Miami on March 2 was one of the best games in the ACC this season.

    For Duke fans, this game will always be known for Ryan Kelly's unbelievable comeback.

    After missing 13 straight games because of a foot injury, Kelly returned against the Hurricanes and scored 36 points while leading Duke to a 79-76 victory. His performance had Mike Krzyzewski putting him in legendary terms.

    "I mean, me saying 'spectacular' or whatever doesn't do his performance justice. One for the ages. Probably as good a performance as any player has had -- a Duke player has had -- in Cameron." - Mike Krzyzewski, ESPN.com

    Kelly's return also restored confidence in many that Duke had a great chance to reach the Final Four.