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Beyond the arc: Duke men’s basketball finds redemption against St. Johns

<p>Zion Williamson led the team in points with 29 and helped Duke outshoot and outshine the Red Storm.</p>

Zion Williamson led the team in points with 29 and helped Duke outshoot and outshine the Red Storm.

Duke easily handled St. John's Saturday, as the Blue Devils kept their non-conference home win streak alive with a 91-61 blowout. The Blue Zone breaks down three key takeaways, three key stats and looks forward for the Duke squad:

Three key takeaways: 

1. Strong shooting start for both sides 

Both teams started the first half trading the lead back and forth, due to the strong shooting start for both sides. Within the first five minutes of the game, Duke went 5-of-5 from the field and 3-of-3 from beyond the arc. By the ninth minute of the game, Cam Reddish was already 3-of-3 for from three. Zion Williamson had a slow start, but he warmed up quickly and became the key player of the game. The Red Storm also had a strong start, but Duke made sure to surpass its opponent’s momentum to finish the afternoon with a win. 

2. Tre Jones silences Shamorie Ponds 

The Red Storm’s Shamorie Ponds, who averages 20.4 points per game, struggled against Tre Jones. Ponds and had a hard time stepping up for his team. Jones gave him a hard time even making it past half-court and forced him into an 0-of-5 shot chart for the first half. This was a big difference compared to his performance last year, as he was the key to St. Johns upsetting Duke. Ponds ended that game with 33 points under his belt and was expected to hand it to the Blue Devils again this year. Overall, Duke’s defense came out strong, only allowing the Red Storm an overall 33.8 field goal percentage.  

3. RJ takes the backseat 

The leading scorer for the Blue Devils, freshman R.J. Barrett, took a step back against the Red Storm. In the first half, Williamson put up 19 points against the Red Storm while Barrett claimed only five. This gave Williamson the chance to take the commanding role, while Reddish took a larger role on offense than usual. This just goes to show the strong talent distributed amongst the team, where only a couple members can give it their all and yet the team can still manage to dominate its opponents.  

Three Key Stats: 

1. 26.9 from the 3-point line 

Earlier this week against Notre Dame, the Blue Devils shot very well from deep. Duke put up a 52.6 shooting percentage from beyond the arc. Against St. John’s however, Duke did not keep that trend, finishing at an abysmal 26.9 percentage, reminding everybody why a zone defense is sometimes very effective against the Blue Devils.  

2. 29 points for Zion Williamson 

Williamson was active all across the court Saturday. He lead the team in blocks and steals with two and five respectively along with finishing the game with a game-high 29 points. The shots he took were efficient as well, as he went 13-of-17 from the field. With Jones by his side on defense, the dynamic duo blew out the Red Storm with ease.  

3. 12 defensive rebounds for R.J. Barrett 

The Blue Devils were dominant on the defensive boards, again with the help of Barrett. Barrett lead the team in defensive rebounds with 12. Although Barrett took a step back from his usual role as the shining player on offense, he did a lot for his team by focusing on securing rebounds and making sure the Red Storm did not have many second-chance opportunities.  

Looking Forward:  

The Blue Devils redeemed themselves for their performance against the Red Storm last year at Madison Square Garden. The Blue Devils now hope to keep up the momentum against Boston College at Cameron Indoor Stadium next Tuesday.