After each Duke men's basketball game this season, check back here for the Player of the Game and more. Today, the Blue Zone breaks down a solid game from Trevor Keels and the rest of Duke's 40-point win against Gardner-Webb:
One player: Trevor Keels
Trevor Keels sparked a flame that engulfed Duke’s entire team. The freshman guard was just as dominant as in his college debut a week ago against Kentucky. On only nine shot attempts, Keels led the team in scoring with 18 points, 16 of which came in the first half. Keels also had four assists and seven rebounds. To sum it up, he was everywhere.
Perhaps Keels’ most notable feat of the night was his 3-point shooting. He shot 4-for-6 from beyond the arc for 67%. It takes a special player to take one of your team’s glaring problem areas and make it your strength, but against Gardner-Webb, Keels did just that. From his red-hot start, opposing teams may begin to fear "Keel Mode" as soon as the Blue Devils step onto the court.
One word: Offense
Saturday against Campbell the Blue Devils only scored 67 points. Tuesday, they flipped the switch. The start was shaky, but with just over 12 minutes to play in the first half, Duke took the lead back for good on a Mark Williams highlight-reel dunk. Williams was a monster in the paint, scoring 13 points after being rendered ineffective against Campbell. The 10 made 3-pointers—Duke shot 10-for-22 from the arc—propelled the Blue Devils to 92 points with a nice 40-point cushion.
The team also looked more like a cohesive offensive unit. The plethora of alley-oops added to the increasing lead, sent the Crazies roaring, and highlighted the improved teamwork. Duke notched 24 assists, three times the amount from the season opener against Kentucky. While there is still a ways to go for a team with championship potential, they are starting to look more like just that: a team. And that team can score.
One stat: 41 rebounds
The 41 total rebounds Duke grabbed marked a 10-rebound increase from the Campbell game just a few days ago. Rebounding has been a consistent problem area for the Blue Devils through the first four games since they lost that battle to both Kentucky and Campbell.
Much of that production came from Paolo Banchero, who grabbed eight rebounds along with 10 points. Fellow freshmen Keels and AJ Griffin also contributed to the rebounding improvement. Griffin notched six total, one offensive, in his 16 minutes off the bench. Wendell Moore Jr., and Theo John each recorded five, proving that it has been a whole-team focus, and a whole-team improvement.
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Rachael Kaplan is a Trinity junior and sports managing editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.