After each Duke men's basketball game this season, check back here for the Player of the Game and more. Today, the Blue Zone takes a look at another strong performance from Wendell Moore Jr. and the rest of Duke's win against Lafayette:
One player: Wendell Moore Jr.
The junior leap is real, everyone. Team captain Wendell Moore Jr. turned in another stellar performance, leading the team to a stunning second-half performance with his near career-high 23 points. Along with his scoring, he posted four assists, six rebounds and two steals. There is no doubt that up to this point, Moore has been the X-factor on this year's Duke team.
At times in his first two years, Moore showed flashes of what his five-star recruiting profile was all about but never strung together the consistency to garner attention. However, his impressive on-ball defense paired with his newfound three-level scoring has turned him into a star. After allowing Lafayette to hang around for the first 20 minutes, Duke pulled away behind Moore's strong scoring performance. Thanks to the junior captain's veteran leadership, the Blue Devils finished with their second consecutive victory of 30 points or more.
One word: Defense
To this point, Duke’s defense has been arguably more fun to watch than its offense, and that is not necessarily a bad thing. Every possession, it seems like the Blue Devils are diving on the floor for a steal or running the opponents down to the final seconds of the shot clock. Because of that pressure, only one team, Kentucky, has been able to score more than 56 points against Duke.
In total last night, the Blue Devils came away with 11 steals, part of the 17 turnovers they forced. The team currently averages 9.6 steals per game, a mark that sets them at 58th in the NCAA. While that ranking might not jump off the page, there are only four other teams in the top 25 ranked ahead of them in that area, and none in the top five. If there is one thing that this Duke team can rely on, it is its ability to get stops.
One stat: 7 free throw attempts
While there is not much for Duke to complain about after last night’s performance, one stat that jumps out on the stat sheet is the team's seven free throw attempts. It is disappointing to see a team with the driving strength of players like Trevor Keels, Paolo Banchero, Mark Williams and Moore failing to reach the line at a high volume.
For context, the team took 14 trips to the line against Gardner-Webb and 23 against Kentucky. Getting to the line allows for easy points along with a chance to slow down the game and reset. In the future, pay attention to the way the Blue Devils attack the basket, hopefully returning that stat to at least double-digit attempts.
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