No. 1 Duke cruises past Cornell, 88-47
Quinn Cook took care of passing the ball. Nearly everyone else at Duke handled the scoring, and that had the Blue Devils looking like a No. 1 team again.
Seth Curry scored 20 points and Cook had a career-high 12 assists in top-ranked Duke's 88-47 rout of Cornell on Wednesday night.
Mason Plumlee added 18 points, freshman Rasheed Sulaimon had 16 points and Cook showed up all over the box score for the Blue Devils (10-0), who were playing as a No. 1 team for the 210th time under Mike Krzyzewski but the first since February 2011.
After a slow start, they certainly wound up looking the part by posting two key season highs — shooting 56.7 percent and forcing 26 turnovers — while reeling off 23 straight points and holding the Big Red scoreless for an 8-minute stretch when the game got away from them.
"I don't think that it's hit any of us that we're No. 1," Cook said. "We don't go out there like, 'We're the No. 1 team, everything's going to happen like this.' That should be motivation — we're the No. 1 team, we want to keep the spot."
Shonn Miller had 14 points to lead Cornell (4-7). The Big Red missed their first 10 shots of the second half and shot 22.6 percent over the final 20 minutes to lose their third in four games and fall to 0-4 all-time against No. 1 teams.
Cornell hung around for about 15 minutes before the Blue Devils pulled away at the end of the first half and turned the second half into one 20-minute-long run by outscoring the Big Red 47-17 to claim their 99th straight nonconference victory at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
"Eventually, their length, size and quickness really affected us," Cornell coach Bill Courtney said. "They forced turnovers because they are so long and so well-disciplined on defense. ... Their ability to make shots is unbelievable and that is what they do."
The Blue Devils can extend that streak to triple digits Thursday night when Elon visits.
Once Duke — playing its first game since Dec. 8 and just its third this month — finally found its rhythm, several players put up some big numbers in the final box.
"I'm not going to blame the layoff," Krzyzewski said. "I didn't think we were ready defensively, and they were good. They were really good at pushing the ball up, and I don't think we had the emotion needed to play defense. I think the last 8 minutes of the first half, we started getting it, ended the half really well and the second half, we were terrific."
Curry was 7 of 10 with three 3-pointers in his second straight 20-point game and fourth of the season. Plumlee finished one rebound shy of his fourth straight double-double and was perfect from the field, hitting all eight of his shots at Duke's basket and one inadvertent and inconsequential one into the Big Red's.
And Cook, who has taken ownership of the starting point guard job during the past month, did all the little things for the Blue Devils. He finished the first half one assist shy of his previous career high of nine, and he and Tyler Thornton combined to finish with 17 assists and one turnover.
"It gets guys going, gets guys shots in positions they want the ball, and that benefits Mason a lot — he's able to just catch and finish," Curry said. "When he's doing that, we're at our best."
Cook's pinpoint passing set up Duke's first three baskets out of the halftime break, when the Blue Devils built upon their lead by scoring the first 19 points of the half. Sulaimon pushed the lead into the 20s for the first time when his free throw with 16:51 left made it 50-30, and Josh Hairston made it a 30-point game with a three-point play that put Duke up 60-30 with 13:51 to go.
That lopsided margin made it easy to forget that the Blue Devils had trouble getting into a groove until the end of a disjointed first half in which they shot nearly 59 percent, forced 15 turnovers — yet only led 41-30 after a 13-4 run that closed the half. Plumlee capped it with a layup with about 9 seconds left that gave Duke its first double-figure lead — and it only swelled from there.