Grayson Allen starred for Duke against Elon.

Beyond the arc: Takeaways from Duke's win against Elon

After Duke won its regular season opener against Elon 98-67, the Blue Zone gives three key takeaways, stats and plays from the victory: 

3 Key Takeaways

1. Duke is BIG

As expected the Blue Devils dominated the paint against Elon, outrebounding the Phoenix 48-30 and pulling down seven more offensive boards. Duke had two double-digit rebounders in Marvin Bagley III and Javin DeLaurier and the three primary big men shot a combined 19-for-27 from inside the arc. The size advantage was expected against a much smaller Phoenix team, but the forwards did not fail to shine. However, as Duke plays higher-ranked teams and enters ACC play, the frontcourt's true ability will be tested.

2. There are still shooters in Durham

With the departures of long-range snipers Luke Kennard and Matt Jones, there were many concerns entering the season that the Blue Devils did not have a great shooting team. However, those concerns with temporarily put to rest after Friday's contest. Grayson Allen was firing on all cylinders in the early goins, going five-for-eight from deep in the first half en route to 19 points at the midway point. Top-ranked shooting guard Gary Trent Jr. also showed why he was the best at his position in high school, chipping in 17 points on 80 percent shooting from downtown.

3. Coach K went deep into the bench

Although it was just the first game of the season and Duke was blowing out Elon, head coach Mike Krzyzewski used his bench early and often—especially with Carter, Duval and Jordan Goldwire in foul trouble early and Marques Bolden out with strep throat. All the scholarship players got a chance to play and Alex O’Connell and Javin DeLaurier played like they deserve significant minutes as the season moves on. It will be interesting to see how the deep the coaching staff goes later in the season, as Duke is known to historically pay a short bench. 

3 Key Stats

1. Eight assists

Last year, a major point of struggle for the Blue Devils was a lack of a true point guard. Frank Jackson never developed into a traditional ball handler and Allen’s performance suffered from playing out of his true position. However, Trevon Duval put those concerns for the moment, dishing out eight assists to his teammates and leading the game in steals with three.

2.) 25 Points

If there was any doubt in Bagley’s abilities, his performance today exemplified why he deserved to be the best player in the class. The 6-foot-11 forward dumped 25 points on Elon, flashing a mature skill set with Kareem Abdul-Jabar-esque hook shots and dominant post moves to the get the rim. He shot 12-for-18 from the field and also pulled down 10 rebounds to secure a double-double. The scary part for opponents is that Bagley still has room to improve, as he struggled with his mid-range and three-point shots – going 0-for-2 from deep – and shot just 25 from the charity stripe.

3.) 27.3 Percent

If there is one thing Duke practices before tomorrow night’s game and in preparation for Michigan State, it will be free throw shooting. The Blue Devils went just 3-for-11 at the line in what they hope was just a one-time shortcoming. Duke’s big men will be expected to go to the line often with their physical mismatches and dominant plays. However, teams may find fouling as a more attractive option if the likes of Bagley, Wendell Carter, and DeLaurier shoot a combined 1-for-8. 

3 Key Plays

1. Grayson Allen hits three 3-pointers early

Allen sent Cameron crazy with his hot shooting from deep early on. After hitting a three-pointer at the 8:28 mark, he came down the floor one possession later to make another from downtown at 7:29. If that was not enough, he hit another one just 38 seconds later for a quick nine points in under two minutes. He proceeded to miss a heat-check three on the next possession.

2. Duval behind the back for a Bagley Slam

With just ten seconds left in the half, Duval showed off his court vision and passing skills by flying down the floor, stopping at the elbow, and hitting an in-stride Bagley, who put it away with a thunderous slam. That amazing sequence cranked up the volume in Cameron and the Blue Devils ended the first half feeling good about themselves.

3. Carter Block to Trent And-One

Leading by 30, Carter emphatically sent a Karolis Kundera’s layup the other way which was scooped up by Bagley. Bagley found Trent with a nice outlet pass, who then finished at the rim through contact from Dainian Swoope. Making the layup and the ensuing free throw, Trent finished up the traditional 3-point play.

Looking Forward

Duke definitely proved tonight why it deserved to be in the conversation for the top team in the country. With its imposing size, physical play, and touch from deep, this Blue Devils team looks like the complete package early on. However, the true potential of the team will be tested next Tuesday when they face off with No. 2 Michigan State in the Champions Classic—Elon is not by an means a strong team. 

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