DURHAM – Quinn Cook spent most of Saturday afternoon fielding questions about what it was like having a great passing game – he notched 14 assists against Wake Forest – but such a poor shooting game – he missed all 11 of his field goal attempts.
Cook returned home and found encouraging text messages from his teammates, starting with Mason Plumlee, that told him to keep shooting.
He did, and he had a reversal Tuesday, scoring 27 points to help No. 1 Duke bury Clemson, 68-40, at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
“He showed the maturity of not trying to make up for 0-for-11,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “He just played his game. … Coming off an 0-for-11, I really loved that he was so good in that regard.”
Clemson (8-6, 0-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) held Duke to its second-lowest-scoring half of the season (25), but the Tigers put up their worst offensive 20 minutes since 2001, scoring 10 points, shooting 12 percent and going almost eight minutes without a field goal.
Ryan Kelly scored more than Clemson by himself in the first half, playing his second straight impressive game for Duke (15-0, 2-0) with 12 total points before leaving with a foot injury.
Krzyzewski said Duke is optimistic the injury is not serious, though the injury is to the same foot that Kelly sprained during the holiday break and kept him from playing in last season’s NCAA Tournament.
He will be evaluated today.
The Blue Devils’ scoring didn’t suffer in Kelly’s absence, with 20 of Cook’s points coming after halftime.
“That was a heck of a game, especially after the last game,” Plumlee said of Cook. “We know he’s a good shooter. … That’s just maturity. Mentally, he’s mature. You can’t let one part of your game affect the other parts.”
Clemson’s offense turned around in the second half, making some headway against Duke’s defense and sporadically bothering the Blue Devils with a press.
With Duke up 15 to begin the second half, however, the Blue Devils were content to trade made baskets for much of the half.
Duke’s lead remained in the double digits for the duration of the second half on the way to winning its 15th-straight game.
Seth Curry scored eight points to give him more than 1,000 for his career, but the Tigers mostly kept Curry from doing too much damage.
That allowed room for Cook to do his.
“You obviously think about (0-for-11), but the next time you’re in practice, you have to move on,” Cook said. “Great shooters always move onto the next shot. Just to have my teammates text me and tell me, you know, ‘Tuesday, you’re going to hit everything,’ that’s a big confidence-builder.”
Cook didn’t hit everything, but he was close. The sophomore finished 12-for-16 from the field in addition to adding five rebounds and five assists compared to one turnover.
Clemson center Devin Booker notched a double-double with 12 points and 15 rebounds, but he was the only Clemson player to score more than six points.
Booker did an excellent job guarding Plumlee, holding him to eight points, but Krzyzewski said that the two canceled each other out, which was a positive for Duke.
Clemson coach Brad Brownell said that, like Wake Forest did, the Tigers had to pick their battles, but Duke ended up being too deep.
“We did a reasonably good job on Curry, a reasonably good job on Plumlee, a good job on (Rasheed) Sulaimon,” Brownell said. “The problem is you just keep going. I don’t know what (Cook) was averaging, but it wasn’t 27.
“... The fact that they have guys that have the ability to do that when they need it or to help them just makes it really hard.”
Plumlee said he and his teammates picking up Cook after a rough shooting night wasn’t a big deal.
It’s just something that good teams understand: At some point in the season, everyone will be needed to help win a game.
“On a good team, things happen like that,” Plumlee said. “That’s what good teams do. You’re always looking out for each other.”
Nick Piotrowicz can be reached at 407-9952 or firstname.lastname@example.org