In a neck and neck contest, No. 1 Duke emerged victorious on a last-second shot from Cam Reddish, taking down No. 13 Florida State. The Blue Zone looks at three takeaways, three stats, and shows what’s to come for Mike Krzyzewski’s squad:
Three key takeaways:
1. Reddish Hot
For the first time in a long time, freshman forward Cam Reddish looked like the Cam Reddish we all expected to see. In addition to his game-winning three-pointer, Reddish knocked down three other treys that gave Duke the lead in his 23-point outburst. Some other telling moments for the game’s hero: an authoritative block in transition, a rip taken from 7-foot-4 giant Christ Koumadje and a Jordan-esque reverse layup.
And here’s another twist — Reddish did all this while fighting cramps throughout the second half. Expecting a string of these performances is a study in foolhardiness, but anyone can see Cam Reddish has his mojo back. As the Seminoles experienced firsthand, that makes him a very dangerous threat.
2. Out of sight, still in mind
Zion Williamson looked a lot like Zion Williamson for a half before the presence of Trent Forrest’s fingers in his left eye interrupted his dribble drive and sent the freshman to the sideline for the remainder of the game. Williamson suffered from double vision that had not cleared up by the time the final buzzer sounded.The true extent of the injury and his timetable for return are still cloudy.
Before exiting, though, Williamson once again displayed his value to the Blue Devil lineup. On nearly identical back-to-back plays, fellow freshmen R.J. Barrett and Williamson elevated against Florida State’s behemoth, Koumadje. Barrett was stripped; Williamson finished gracefully over the top. He also managed to corral a game-high eight rebounds, five of them offensive, in only 17 minutes of play.
3. Poor paint job
The Blue Devil bigs couldn’t get anything going on either side of the floor against 6-foot-10 forward Mfiondu Kabangele and the aforementioned Koumadje. Kabangele dominated in the lane, tallying 24 points. Center Marques Bolden pulled down only five rebounds while forward Javin DeLaurier came up emptyhanded in that category. Duke as a team was outrebounded 39-34 and gave up 10 dunks, many on uncontested lobs to the bigger Seminoles. In a week, we’ll see if Bolden and and DeLaurier can measure up to a similarly sized Virginia tandem, Jay Huff and Jack Salt.
Three key stats:
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The hot hands of Reddish and Barrett helped the Blue Devils achieve their highest shooting percentage from beyond the arc since the season-opening romp against Kentucky. The two freshmen accounted for nine of Duke’s 11 three-point makes. Such a breakthrough came at the right time, as Florida State shot blockers crowded the lane and usual Duke sharpshooter Jack White converted on only one of four wide open three-point attempts.
That’s the number of minutes played by Zion Williamson in the second half of Saturday’s matchup. His absence was sorely felt in key moments — the lead changed 13 times throughout the game.
For a while, it looked like last year’s Duke squad was taking on the current one. The Blue Devils allowed 10 dunks, nearly all of them on lobs to Kabangele and Koumadje, à la Bagley and Carter. Duke recorded only one slam of its own, although that did happen to be a particularly ferocious slam through contact by Barrett.
Next up on Duke’s slate is Syracuse. The Blue Devils’ rediscovered three-point stroke will assist them in breaking down head coach Jim Boeheim’s stifling zone defense at Cameron Indoor Stadium Monday. Syracuse is coming off a deflating 73-59 loss to Georgia Tech in what has been a largely disappointing season thus far. The Orange do have experience on its side, returning all five starters from last season. Lack of experience didn’t seem to faze Duke against Florida State, however. Expect a more straightforward victory for the Blue Devils Monday — especially if Zion can find his way onto the floor.