The Blue Devils trailed for most of the night during their star freshmen’s Madison Square Garden debuts, with much of the contest bringing back bad memories of the Gonzaga game. But unlike Maui, No. 2 Duke was able to pull off the comeback and defeat No. 12 Texas Tech 69-58. The Blue Zone gives three key takeaways and stats and looks forward for the Blue Devils:
Three key takeaways:
1. Ice-cold shooting
If one thing kills this year’s Duke men’s basketball team, it will be 3-point shooting. The Blue Devils missed their first 15 shots from beyond the arc Thursday, finishing a dreadful 3-for-20 from deep on the night. That horrid shooting display allowed Texas Tech to take a lead as big as eight in the second half, though a few clutch late-game shots sealed the victory for Duke. The 46 percent mark from downtown the Blue Devils posted against Kentucky was obviously unsustainable, but if Duke starts to disappear from outside like it did at Madison Square Garden, a sixth national title will soon become a distant dream.
2. Cam Reddish continues to disappoint
Forward Cam Reddish is still trying to find his role in the Blue Devil offense. The No. 3 recruit in the country did not score in the first half Thursday and had just one point with five minutes remaining. Overall, the Norristown, Pa., native posted just eight points on 1-for-7 shooting from the floor, the third time over his last four games that Reddish has finished with a single-digit scoring total. Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski needs to help his star freshman find his groove before the team returns to action for ACC play.
3. Jack White proving his worth
One of the main catalysts to the Blue Devils’ comeback was junior forward Jack White. The junior captain played 32 minutes off the bench, putting up 8 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks. All eight of White’s points came in the second half, including the Blue Devils’ first two 3-pointers of the night—one that knotted the score up at 45 with 11 minutes remaining and one that gave Duke the lead for good with six minutes left. The 6-foot-7 Australian is doing all the little things right and is even starting to garner some NBA draft buzz, a long way from the 0.9 points-per-game he averaged last season.
Three key stats:
1. Six minutes for Marques Bolden
Someone who didn’t see the floor much Thursday was junior center Marques Bolden, who played just six minutes despite garnering just one personal foul. The former five-star recruit still managed two blocks despite the limited playing time, but did not attempt a single field goal on the night. Bolden recently lost his starting spot to fellow junior Javin DeLaurier, though the big man should still see valuable minutes off the bench the rest of the way.
2. 80 percent from the free-throw line
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One of the biggest weaknesses of this Duke squad has been its free-throw shooting. Through the Yale game, the Blue Devils’ mark of 65 percent from the charity stripe placed them 286th out of 353 Division I teams. But since its ten-day break for exams, Duke has been excellent from the line, shooting 21-of-25 on free throws against Princeton in addition to a 20-of-25 performance against Texas Tech.
3. 15 steals
The Blue Devils’ defense was all over the floor Thursday, putting up 15 steals. That total marks Duke’s sixth consecutive game with double-digit steals, tied for the second-most in program history. The aggressive defense was led by freshman point guard Tre Jones, who led the Blue Devils with a season-high six takeaways.
Duke now heads into ACC play with only one loss to its name and three wins over ranked opponents. But the Blue Devils have shown that they are more than vulnerable for an upset if things don’t go their way, and must use their extended vacation to really go after their main weaknesses—especially outside shooting. Duke’s next matchup isn’t until Jan. 5 against Clemson at Cameron Indoor Stadium.