After two losses in three games, No. 3 Duke dominated Miami from start to finish to win 87-57. The Blue Zone takes a look at three takeaways, three key stats, and looks ahead for the Blue Devils:
Three Key Takeaways:
1. Tre Jones is really good at defense
The freshman point guard showed why he’s a Defensive Player of the Year candidate with a masterful performance against Miami’s Chris Lykes. Jones absolutely shut down the Hurricanes’ leading scorer through his physical press defense and knack for the ball—his six steals tied a career-high, set against Texas Tech. The defensive energy he brought carried over to the rest of the team, as Duke earned 10 steals and held Miami to just 35 percent shooting and 25 percent from three.
2. Another all-around performance from R.J. Barrett
Freshman forward R.J. Barrett once again proved that he’s not just a scorer, with an all-around line of 19 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists, a game-high in each category. While he couldn’t get on the board from beyond the arc, Barrett’s difficult finishes and nifty passes around the rim energized the team and allowed Duke to cruise to an easy win. Without freshman forward Zion Williamson on the floor, Barrett has seemingly looked to become more of a distributor, as he’s averaged 6.3 assists in the past three games.
3. Zion’s absence is bringing out the best in everyone else
While Barrett and freshman forward Cam Reddish once again carried much of the load with a combined 38 points off 15-of-32 shooting, the Blue Devils finally figured out how to get everybody else involved as well. With a solid 11-point performance from sophomore Alex O’Connell in his third straight start, as well as a 15 point and 10 rebound double-double from Marques Bolden to go along with 17 bench points, the victory was truly a team effort. With Williamson potentially returning in the next few games, the ability of key role players to step up and provide a spark on both ends of the floor will go a long way, especially with tournament play coming up.
Three Key Stats:
1. 0 points in the first half for Chris Lykes
The game was essentially over by the end of the first half, as Miami’s star was absolutely locked up and the Hurricanes could find no offense on the way to a 19-47 deficit. The 5-foot-7 Lykes struggled against Jones and was stifled by help defense on all drives to the rim, finishing with just four points on 1-of-15 shooting from the field, including a 0-of-7 performance from deep. For someone who averaged 16.9 points per game coming into the contest, good for seventh in the ACC, he was utterly unable to create anything in the half-court, as his lone basket came on a wide-open fast-break layup.
2. 28 straight missed 3’s for Jack White ends
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Junior forward and Blue Devil captain Jack White had been on an absolutely nightmarish shooting slump, missing his last 28 three pointers ever since his 0-of-10 performance against Syracuse Jan. 14. However, just like the rest of the team, White bounced back in a huge way, hitting 3-of-3 from downtown. His first 3-pointer, off an assist from Tre Jones, brought the Cameron Crazies to their feet with one of the loudest ovations of the night, and White couldn’t help but crack a smile. Although his other two 3-pointers came late in the second half during garbage time, it’s safe to say the slump is finally over.
3. 16 turnovers for both teams
As superb as Duke’s defense was against Miami, the biggest room for improvement for the team was taking care of the ball. The Blue Devils also had 16 turnovers, well above their season average of 12.9, as Barrett had five and the typically sure-handed Jones had an uncharacteristic four. While it didn’t make a difference in the blowout, Duke has got to cut down on the sloppiness as tougher opponents await.
The Blue Devils get two days of rest before facing off against Wake Forest next Tuesday for their final home game of the year. Should Williamson return for that game, it will likely be a good warmup before a marquee rematch against No. 5 North Carolina the following Saturday.