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 another Blue Devil win and another strong outing from Wendell Moore Jr.:
One player: Wendell Moore Jr.
The secret is out: Wendell Moore Jr. can play basketball, and really well, at that. The captain continued his tremendous junior campaign with a dominant performance against Appalachian State. His offensive power was undeniable, as his 21 points led the team yet again. Moore shot 8-for-11 from the field and made all four of his three-point attempts.
Throughout the early part of the season, Moore has quickly proved to be a difference-maker on a deep Duke team. Along with his scoring firepower, he averages just under six rebounds a game and about five assists. On a team with such strong freshman talent in Paolo Banchero and company, Moore boasts a level of experience and seniority that is helping him lead his squad with grace and efficacy.
One word: Recovery
With four minutes to play in the first half, the Blue Devils only had a one-point lead. Then they flipped a switch. Duke went on a 16-4 run to close out the half, and then carried that momentum throughout the second half; the team's smallest lead in the final twenty minutes was five. The slow start was reminiscent of many other early-season games, like a prior win against Campbell in which Duke at one point in the first half was down 10 points. While the close 16 minutes against the Mountaineers were discouraging, what followed was quite the opposite. That four-minute run contained two made threes, six rebounds and back-to-back monster dunks by Mark Williams and Moore.
The offensive barrage that the Blue Devils have unleashed the past two games also highlights the team’s recovery after a poor offensive showing against Ohio State. It is evident that Duke is getting back on its feet after that demoralizing loss—of the game and the top spot in the AP Poll—and recovering just in time for ACC play to begin.
One stat: 15-of-30 3-point shooting
It seems Christmas came early for the Blue Devils this year: their 3-point shooting is finally here. After a disappointing start to the season from outside the arc—the team shot 1-for-12 from long range against Kentucky—Duke is now showing off its long-ball ability. The team made 15-of-30 triples for an incredible 50% shooting rate. While Moore contributed the most, five other Blue Devils made two 3-pointers of their own.
The Blue Devils were able to find offensive power inside the arc as well—they shot 33-for-58 overall, good for 56.8%. After the tough road loss to Ohio State, in which Duke shot 28.5% from three and 38.4% from the field, these numbers are an encouraging sign. Once ACC play begins, Duke will need to keep its 3-point attack alive to overcome the more competitive opponents that come its way.
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Rachael Kaplan is a Trinity junior and sports managing editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.