As for the final five minutes of the first half, well...
On a night when N.C. State fell by 20 points to unranked Oklahoma State in Puerto Rico, the Blue Devils laid any upset notions to rest in Durham with a dominating 30-0 run. Quinn Cook's three-pointer with 4:54 left in the first half put Duke up for good at 32-30; the next time FGCU scored again, early in the second half, they were down 59-30. Welcome to the big stage, newbies.
The final score was 88-67. The scrappy Panthers hit 11 threes on the night but simply couldn't match up with Duke's 6-10 senior Mason Plumlee, who racked up 28 points on 9-of-11 shooting with nine rebounds.
"They didn't have an answer for Mason inside, so we took advantage of that," Duke coach MIke Krzyzewski acknowledged, noting that he was particularly pleased by Plumlee's "incredibly efficient" 10-of-11 performance from the line.
Teammate Ryan Kelly powered his way to 14 points and nine boards and keyed Duke's game-changing run with a three-point play after rebounding Plumlee's lone free-throw miss. He credited Plumlee's offseason determination to improve upon his career 55.8 percent mark from the line. "People can't foul him now," Kelly said. "That's something he's worked hard on all summer and all fall, and he's showing it now."
Freshman Rasheed Sulaimon also showed his potential to spark the Duke attack, with 19 points including three three-pointers and 6-of-6 from the line. Krzyzewski praised Florida Gulf Coast guard Bernard Thompson, whose 24 points on 9-of-13 shooting (including 6-of-8 from three-point range) were a career high. "They play hard, and they play together," he said of the Panthers. "I would think they'll challenge for their league."
Check the box score here.