No. 1 Duke shakes off pesky Elon, 76-54

Dec. 20, 2012 @ 10:58 PM

Inside of each locker, Duke players have a signed agreement to meet the program’s five standards.

The last is an agreement to do everything in his power to help the team win. Senior Mason Plumlee says the Blue Devils have been so committed since the summer pick-up games.

Plumlee’s rise to one of the nation’s best players continued Thursday night with yet another double-double as nationally top-ranked Duke fended off pesky Elon, 76-54.

Plumlee said the mentality has been not to worry about points, rebounds or any other individual statistics. Only winning matters, and so far the Blue Devils are 11 for 11 with Plumlee in the role of go-to guy.

“If I can take it to another level, it’ll open up things,” Plumlee said. “We’ve got some good shooters.”

Plumlee poured in 21 points and grabbed 15 rebounds. When he returned to the lineup with just over 12 minutes left, having sat with three fouls, Duke immediately got another charge from a pair of Tyler Thornton 3-pointers.

With 11 consecutive points, Duke surged ahead 54-35 and cruised the final 10 minutes.

“The season is not going to be a perfect one, and I’m proud that we kept playing defense,” head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “You have to muck things out for a while, and then we got that spurt. We were missing some shots, and then Tyler hit those two shots.”

The nation’s all-time coaching leader said the chemistry is similar to the national title team of 2010 and the 2010-11 team of Kyle Singler, Nolan Smith and freshman Kyrie Irving.

“Even 2010, we had good chemistry. It really got good in February,” Krzyzewski said. “I tell you what, Kyrie’s freshman year I thought maybe we could run the table. We had good chemistry right away with that team. We had a perimeter of Kyrie, Nolan and Kyle. That’s pretty good. And then Kyrie got hurt. That’s what happens, you’ve got to be a little bit lucky.

“To be able to say that over the last three decades, I’m proud of that. It’s called sustained excellence. And that’s what we want to do. It’s tougher than achieving it once.”

This year’s squad is just trying to sustain it for the season at hand. And Plumlee is happy to provide whatever role is needed.

“I’m getting the ball a little bit more, but I’m playing a lot more, too,” Plumlee said. “Guys are looking for me. I still leave points out there, like those layups tonight. There’s room for improvement.”

And he added, “For us to be good, I have to be good.”

And the only statistic in that measurement is winning.

Contact the writer at awooten@hendersondispatch.com.