Duke Blue Devils: Plumlee Effort Beats Wilmington

The Duke Blue Devils used a Marshall Plumlee fueled second half effort to overcome a tough UNC Wilmington team.

The Duke Blue Devils survived the UNC Wilmington Seahawks 93-85 and so now they advance. It has a tough game and a hard fought game. There were fifty personal fouls in a physical in your face game. Grayson Allen scored twenty points and only five came from field goals.

The Seahawks certainly had their shot. In the first half, Wilmington dictated tempo and made shots. That allowed them to set up the press and the result was a three point halftime lead. Big shots and heady drives by Chris Flemmings made it look like an upset was a real possibility.

Duke came through the first half on the offense of Brandon Ingram against smaller defenders. That began to show some cracks in the Wilmington defense. Those cracks were not schematic as much as they were based on foul trouble. Wilmington’s lone real post C.J. Gettys had three fouls early and he would leave the game early in the second half with his five.

The lack of presence for Wilmington in the middle opened up the game of Marshall Plumlee. Plumlee began to impose himself on the offensive boards and the defense would leave him as the easy pass option for driving ball handlers. Plumlee scored twenty-three points before fouling out with two minutes to go.

A 10-0 run between the halves essentially set the final margin of the game. Wilmington would try to climb back at various points, but their lack of clutch shooting and inability to stop Duke consistently kept them just out of reach in the second half. Duke’s shot blocking was another concern. When leading scorer Craig Ponder fouled out, it became harder to find big shots.

Finally the clock ran out on the Seahawks. The game was closely called on both ends, and there were questionable calls on both sides.

Duke can take pride in the fact that they made adjustments and generated more hustle in the second half. They needed every bit of it. They got twenty points or more from Ingram, Plumlee, and Allen. They also got some good defensive minutes from Derryck Thornton with Luke Kennard having an off night.

As for Wilmington, they really gave it their best shot. When they played their way they were actually winning. When it broke down, they never could quite recapture the magic of the first half.

Duke will face the winner of Yale versus Baylor and possibly those neon uniforms on Saturday.