mattjones_hansungkang

Matt Jones scored in double figures in both games this week and sparked runs with timely steals on ...

Duke men's basketball player of the week: Week 11



Matt Jones 

The statline: 

Saturday vs. Miami: 13 points on 5-for-7 shooting including 3-for-5 from beyond the arc, two rebounds and three steals in 29 minutes.

Monday vs. N.C. State: 11 points on 4-for-11 shooting including 3-for-8 from beyond the arc, three rebounds, three assists and two steals in 34 minutes.

The good: If not for Matt Jones, the Blue Devils could very well be heading into Saturday’s matchup with Wake Forest riding a four-game losing streak. The senior captain’s second-half heroics against Miami propelled Duke to a 12-point victory despite being down 11 at the half. Known for being a defensive presence and team leader, Jones rarely dominates a box score. But after scoring all 13 of his points in the second half against the Hurricanes and adding another 11 against NC State, the Desoto, Texas, native is proving his worth on the offensive side of the ball.

In particular, Jones uses his defensive tenacity to force turnovers and subsequent 2-on-1 or 3-on-2 fast breaks, most notably seen in the Miami game when he got a steal and knocked down a 3-pointer to spark an incredible 20-0 run. Although the Blue Devils were unable to maintain the same momentum after a similar sequence against the Wolfpack, Jones’ ability to knock down clutch 3-pointers is a comforting sign for a team that has been woeful in that category. Duke currently shoots worse than 36 percent from beyond the arc on the season and could only convert 13 triples on 44 attempts this week.  

The bad: Despite the sudden production, Jones is in the midst of a down year offensively due in part to a sharp drop in 3-point shooting accuracy. After shooting 41.5 percent from beyond the arc last season, he is currently shooting just 35.8 percent from deep this year. Sophomore Luke Kennard is the only Blue Devil shooting better than 40 percent from beyond the arc this season. 

The team’s leader in steals at 1.9 per game, Jones’ defensive work on the perimeter against opposing teams' top scorers has been consistently strong throughout the season. But N.C. State’s Dennis Smith Jr. burned both Jones and the rest of the Duke defense en route to a career high 32 points. Although it was not entirely Jones’ fault—the Blue Devils adjusted poorly to the Wolfpack's ball movement in the post—Smith’s second-half takeover singlehandedly carried N.C. State to its first win at Cameron Indoor Stadium since 1995.

The bottom line: In a quiet year for Jones largely overshadowed by the offensive prowess of Kennard and freshman Jayson Tatum, it is reassuring for Duke to see the senior captain aggressive and confident with his jump shot again. As one of only two Blue Devils to have appeared in every game thus far, it is crucial moving forward to have Jones at the top of his game on both ends of the court.   

Honorable Mention: Frank Jackson’s season has been marred by inconsistency. A fan favorite after his clutch 3-pointer tied the game against Kansas Nov. 15, the freshman has since moved in and out of the starting lineup. But in a dismal week for almost everyone else on the court, Jackson showed an intensity lacking in some of his fellow classmates. 

The Alpine, Utah, native recorded 10 points, four assists and two steals off the bench against Miami, earning himself a spot in the starting lineup against N.C. State, when he logged seven points, four rebounds and two assists. With Grayson Allen’s shooting woes persisting and a recent dip in Kennard’s scoring, both Jackson and Jones filled in as guards that need to get a struggling Duke team back on track.  


Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Chronicle.