DURHAM, N.C. -- Quick thoughts on No. 2 Duke’s comeback 73-68 victory over No. 4 Ohio State at Cameron Indoor Stadium in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Wednesday night:
Overview: Are we sure it’s not March? Because this rim-testing, eardrum-vibrating comeback had all the makings of a postseason battle, rather than an early-season test.
A year after Ohio State shellacked Duke 85-63, the Blue Devils came back from a double-digit deficit to avenge last season's loss -- and to make their case as the top team in the nation.
It marks the third time this month the undefeated Blue Devils have topped a top-five team; Duke had already defeated the Associated Press' No. 2 (Louisville) and No. 3 (Kentucky) teams in the country. And according to ESPN Stats & Information, it’s the first time since 1965-66 that Duke has won multiple regular-season non-conference games against AP top-five teams.
Turning point: The Blue Devils -- who made only 30 percent of their shots and pulled down only three offensive rebounds in the first half -- trailed by as many as 10 points early in the second. But an incredible transition alley-oop from Quinn Cook to Mason Plumlee electrified an already-sizzling crowd. And Duke, too, which outscored Ohio State 21-15 to pull to within 48-46 on a Plumlee bucket with 8 minutes, 42 seconds left.
Buckeyes forward Deshaun Thomas (16 points) responded with a 3-pointer to give his team a bit of a cushion back. But with 6:06 left, Duke senior Ryan Kelly knotted the score at 53-53 with a 3-pointer. Seconds later, Kelly buried another 3 to give his team its first lead since it had a 9-7 advantage. The Blue Devils led the rest of the way.
Key player: Plumlee finished with 21 points and 17 rebounds for Duke.
Key stat: The Blue Devils shot 58.1 percent in the second half.
Etc.: The win extended Duke’s streak of non-conference home victories to 97, the longest active streak in Division I. The loss snapped the Buckeyes’ 19-game winning streak in the month of November.
What’s next: The Blue Devils will play Delaware at 2 p.m. ET on Saturday at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Ohio State has a home game against Northern Kentucky at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.