Perimeter play carries Duke basketball in ACC opener

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass.—Entering the season, the Blue Devils knew they would be a team that relied on contributions from perimeter players—particularly young ones—in order to be successful.

When senior forward Amile Jefferson went down with a right foot injury last month, that game plan was amplified—and the results were on full display in Saturday's ACC opener at Boston College, an 81-64 Duke victory.

Despite receiving just three points from the post tandem of Marshall Plumlee and Chase Jeter, Duke racked up 81 points in a 17-point road victory against the Eagles thanks to a bevy of scoring efforts from its backcourt. Sophomore Grayson Allen and freshman Brandon Ingram—both of whom were receiving their first ACC starts Saturday—combined for 42 points, and freshman Luke Kennard added 17 of his own to shoulder the load offensively for the Blue Devils.

Each member of that trio made at least half their shots—shooting 56.8 percent from the floor altogether—and totaled 59 points on just 37 field goal attempts in an impressive display of offensive efficiency.

"Well, we have mostly underclassmen. So our underclassmen are going to score a lot of points, hopefully. We have three really good scoreres in Brandon, Grayson and Luke. For us to have a chance to win, they have to put up good numbers," Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "Both Grayson and Luke did an excellent job in the first half of staying in the game with two fouls. Playing without fouling and still playing hard. Those are things you can’t teach in practice, so [I am] real pleased with that."

Throw in the offensive output of junior Matt Jones—who racked up 16 points on 5-of-10 shooting—and the quarter of Duke guards accounted for 75 of the team's 81 total points on the afternoon, outscoring Boston College by 11 points themselves.

Although they relied heavily on outside options for points, the Blue Devils did not shoot the ball particularly well from downtown, connecting on just 34.8 percent of their 3-point attempts. That Allen, Ingram, Kennard and Jones still managed to be so productive offensively without a lethal barrage of treys speaks to the group's complete arsenal and willingness to attack the rim.

The aggressiveness helped Duke go on an 8-0 run at one point against the Eagles that consisted solely of free throws—a run that may be unusual for most teams, but one that Krzyzewski said is a natural product of the way his perimeter can get to the basket. In fact, the Blue Devils scored nine straight at the charity stripe late in the first half against Long Beach State Dec. 30.

"We get [those kind of streaks] because we drive. We drive and we also pay attention to team fouls. We change how we attack based on team fouls," Krzyzewski said. "If we’re going to be in the double bonus, then we’re going to drive the ball more. To me, it makes sense…. You just have to play the game and adapt to the way the game is presented to you at that point."


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