The College Basketball Notebook

November 24, 2010 8:25 AM

Duke Starts Off Strong

KyrieIrving.jpg Duke started this season where they left off last year's and that's by winning a tournament. Granted, winning the CBE Classic in Kansas City won't even get an asterisk on the list of this program's greatest moments, but back-to-back wins over Marquette and Kansas State were a nice start to the new season and the Blue Devils started to get a new point guard broken in.

Kyrie Irving, the replacement for the departed Jon Scheyer, scored double-digits in both games and distributed the ball, allowing Duke's better known returnees to carry the day. Nolan Smith knocked down 18 against Marquette on Monday and 17 more in last night's final against K-State. Forward Mason Plumlee, who must come up big in the post all year long, had a 25/12 night against the Golden Eagles as Duke shot 54 percent as a team to survive the semi-final game. Yesterday's win came in a way familiar to Duke-haters--they were beaten on the glass, but had a 24-11 scoring edge on the line, a margin roughly equivalent to the 82-68 final score. But it also came in a way familiar to Duke-lovers--they took better care of the basketball, decisively winning the turnover battle and getting good offensive production from the guards.

Kansas State shot its way past Gonzaga in the semis, hitting 50 percent from the floor, burying 10 treys and pounding the glass to the tune of a 37-24 edge. If the Wildcats can hit the boards like that all year, they are going to contend in the Big 12, because Jacob Pullen and Curtis Kelly have the backcourt in good hands. Marquette really did not look good either night, struggling defensively, being destroyed on the glass by the Zags in last night's third-place game (a 66-63 Gonzaga win) and in general lacking support for Jimmy Butler, who scored 20-plus both games. MU has a ways to go before Big East play starts.

Dan Flaherty is the editor of the Sports Notebook Family, published through the Real Clear Sports Blog Network, offering daily commentary in college football ,game analysis in the NFL. and coverage of college basketball. He is the author of The Last New Year's, a book that revisits the historic high points of college football's New Year's Day bowl games.

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