Duke confident heading to Greensboro
Posted March 13, 2013
Updated March 14, 2013
The Duke Blue Devils will take the court in Greensboro Friday almost exactly one year after their surprising NCAA Tournament loss to Lehigh.
Duke players said the loss a year ago came from a lack of focus, something they don't expect this time around.
"Last year, we weren't focused at this time of the year, and it showed in the way we played," said guard Tyler Thornton.
There is little doubt about the team's focus right now. It may be the same court, but a lot has changed in the last 12 months.
Duke is coming off one of its most impressive wins of the year, a dominating 16-point win over North Carolina, and the Blue Devils are plenty used to having Ryan Kelly back in the lineup. He will play his fourth game since his return on Friday.
"We were scrambling to find an identity going into the ACC Tournament last year," Mason Plumlee said. "This year we are getting Ryan back and we have a lot of guys playing at a high level. It's exciting."
Kelly's most impressive stat this season continues to be his record. The Blue Devils are 18-0 when he is on the court, and they appear as dangerous as they did when they rose to No. 1 early this season.
"We are getting that feel back," Quinn Cook said. "He was out two months so that won't happen over night but we are getting back to where we were."
Duke gets the winner of Maryland and Wake Forest on Friday.
They are 3-1 against those two teams this year, with a loss at Maryland last month.
A win Friday sets up a possible rematch with the Tar Heels. Duke isn't the top seed in the 60th edition of the ACC Tournament, but it's hard not to consider this team the favorite with the way they are playing since Kelly's return.