DUKE BLUE DEVILS (4-0)
vs. KANSAS STATE WILDCATS (4-0)
CBE Classic Championship – Finals
Tip-off: Monday, 10:00 p.m. EDT – Sprint Center – Kansas City, MO
Its Number 1 versus Number 3, two days before Thanksgiving with a championship trophy and pride on the line. Only in college basketball. Does it get any better than this? Odds.
The top-ranked Duke Blue Devils advanced to the championship game of the CBE Classic with an impressive victory over a resilient Marquette Golden Eagles squad 82-77. The Blue Devils had to kick it into the next gear after blowing a nine-point halftime advantage. With the game tied at 57, junior center Mason Plumlee took over, scoring 14 of his team-high 25 points in the game’s final 10 plus minutes of action. Plumlee also added 12 rebounds and five blocks to go along with his offensive output. On a night when Duke’s highly touted backcourt of Nolan Smith and Kyrie Irving were a bit sloppy, accounting for 11 of the team’s 19 turnovers, Plumlee’s domination in the paint was a necessity.
The Blue Devils thwarted an upset bid by the Golden Eagles, who were led by Jimmy Butler’s 22 points, but doomed by its long range shooting attack. Marquette shot only 4-of-20 from beyond the arc. Scores.
Duke will take on coach Frank Martin and his Kansas State Wildcats, 81-64 victors over a Gonzaga team that has now lost two straight. Coming off of a lackluster nine-point victory over Presbyterian, Martin was looking for a pronounced improvement in his team’s defensive intensity and got it. Kansas State forced Gonzaga into shooting 33% from the floor, and out rebounded the ‘Zags by a 37-24 margin. The Wildcats were led by Jacob Pullen who totaled 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting. If the Blue Devils are to avoid the upset, they must once again be stellar defensively from the three-point line. Las Vegas odds.
Gonzaga was not, as the Bulldogs allowed Kansas State to shoot 12-of-26 (46.2%) from beyond the arc. Consequently K-State must find an answer in the paint for Mason Plumlee, who displayed the type of quickness and versatility in the pivot that has many people believing that this Duke team is even deeper than the one that cut down the nets in Indianapolis last April.