The Plumlee brothers had a nice start to the season but will need to step it up for Michigan State.
Coach K needs one more win to break Bob Knight’s career wins record, but Tom Izzo and the Spartans won’t hand it to him.
Duke had a hard-fought game against Belmont, where they won 77-76, then shook off the season-opening nerves to take down Presbyterian, 96-55.
Mason and Miles Plumlee have shown throughout both games that they are indeed the strength of the team as Mike Krzyzewski predicted.
They totaled 17 points and 20 rebounds, six assists and a block against Belmont.
At times the team, especially Miles, seemed a little over enthusiastic, which led to a few errors. But overall, they regained some composure to close out the game.
Perimeter defence seemed to be an issue, though it’s a good thing Belmont had an off-night shooting three-pointers (6-for-19).
Duke’s forwards had their hands full with Belmont's senior front line of 6’10” Scott Saunders and 6’9” Mick Hedgepeth. Overall, the battle on the boards was even with 33 to each team.
Both brothers displayed perfect form on their mid-range jumper.
"I think everybody on the floor made a big play tonight," Mason Plumlee said after the Belmont game. "It was a collection of guys. We kind of did it by committee, and that's how it's going to have to be. That's a good thing."
Against Presbyterian there was more cohesion as Duke overwhelmed the Blue Hose, 96-55, as Coach K tied Knight for the most wins in Division-I men's basketball.
The Plumlee brothers had 26 points, 19 rebounds, two assists and three blocks. They only had three turnovers between them, unlike the first game where they tallied six.
Once again both brothers avoided foul trouble as they helped outrebound Presbyterian 41-22. If Coach K wants to pass Coach Knight in the first three games of the season, Duke will have to be very efficient on the boards against Michigan State.
In the Carrier Classic, watched by President Obama, Michigan State had 19 offensive rebounds against No.1-ranked North Carolina.
If it weren’t for John Henson’s shot-blocking prowess (nine blocked shots), the final score of 67-55 would have been closer as UNC defeated the Spartans for the sixth straight time.
Izzo’s team has changed a lot since last season, but their three-point shooting woes still continue as they went 2-of-20.
“We outrebounded them by 15, so you can see that we can be the old Michigan State," said Draymond Green, who had 13 points and 18 rebounds. "We have to shoot the ball better, but we can win a lot of games rebounding like that."
They will be coming after Duke on the glass, no doubt.
Brandon Dawson, Michigan State’s top recruit, slipped and hurt his knee not long into the first half and had a subpar game. He may be fine for the Duke game, though, and he will demand heavy defensive attention.