Tre Jones’ defense can give just about any opposing point guard nightmares, but for Chris Lykes, he’s the boogeyman.
In the point guards’ previous two matchups, Lykes mustered a combined 12 points on 3-of-30 from the field, with Jones locking down his 5-foot-7 opponent en route to two blowout victories for his Blue Devils against Lykes’ Hurricanes.
Tuesday night would be much of the same, as Jones and fellow Blue Devil point guard Jordan Goldwire forced the normally prolific Lykes to sputter yet again, allowing No. 8 Duke to thrash Miami 89-59. The Hurricanes’ preseason All-ACC second-teamer would finish with just nine points on 3-of-13 shooting, pushing his career field goal percentage against Jones-led teams to an ugly 14 percent.
“[Jones] just tried to make it difficult for [Lykes],” Goldwire said. “And our bigs, whenever [Lykes] drove, our bigs were there to help make it tough on his shots. Just keeping constant pressure on him and just making it difficult for him is something that Tre did in [Duke and Miami’s Jan. 4 matchup] and today.”
Despite being the only other point guard on scholarship for the Blue Devils, Goldwire is no longer just Jones’ backup, instead serving as Jones’ co-pilot on a flight that every rival guard desperately wants to land. With freshman forward Wendell Moore Jr. still nursing a right hand injury, head coach Mike Krzyzewski has opted to start Goldwire and Jones together in the last four games.
In both of Duke and Miami’s matchups this month, the Blue Devils’ immovable perimeter defense stopped the Hurricanes’ unstoppable guards. Lykes, who normally averages an efficient 16.1 points per game, was not the only Miami guard that Duke stifled, as Dejan Vasiljevic and Kameron McGusty also could not get it going, scoring below their respective season averages in both meetings.
“It starts with us, so we try to set the tone and hopefully everybody follows,” Goldwire said.
“So just trying to get after the other guards is something that we pride ourselves on.”
Riding high after a 30-point conference victory is easy to do, but it’s not time to start polishing the Blue Devils’ ACC regular season crown just yet.
Coming into Tuesday’s slaughtering, Duke sported a two-game losing streak, oftentimes looking sluggish in its losses to Clemson and Louisville. However, the Blue Devils came out guns ablazing against the Hurricanes, jumping out to a 14-6 lead less than five minutes into the game.
“It starts with the energy that we had coming out tonight,” Jones said. “We had a lot of energy tonight. We came out hitting on all cylinders. Our talk was there, our defense was there and it translated into us hitting shots on the offensive end.”
The Blue Devils have beaten Lykes-led Miami teams by 30 or more points in each of their last three matchups, but getting to put a player that can score from anywhere on the floor in the past is a welcoming sight for Duke.
“We just played really good defense. Lykes is a heck of a player,” Krzyzewski said. “In the second half, he showed more, but we just had a couple good games against him. Glad we don’t play him anymore.”
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