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 Duke's frustrating first loss of the season and Wendell Moore Jr.'s solid performance in spite of that:
One player: Wendell Moore Jr.
The one bright light from Duke's devastating loss was junior Wendell Moore Jr. Moore continued his breakout season against the Buckeyes on a night where no other Blue Devil could find success. He led the team in scoring with 17 points, making 47% of his shots from the field. He did miss two free throws on five attempts after making 70% from the line against Gonzaga and couldn’t connect on both of his three-points shots, but the positives from his performance strongly outweigh the negatives.
Not only did Moore lead the team in points, but he snagged the most rebounds with eight, notched the most assists with five and had two steals. It was by no means a perfect performance, as he also committed four fouls, but Moore led his team the best he could through a tough night.
One word: Messy
This game was not what Blue Devil fans were hoping for nor expecting. Messy play caused the game that Duke once led by 15 to tighten up. Eventually the foul trouble and failure to find offensive production was too much for the Blue Devils to overcome, and Ohio State took over.
The second half was defined by fouls. Of the 23 that Duke committed over the course of the game, 12 came in the second half. Theo John fouled out with over six minutes to play, but at that point, Duke was still up by nine. Four of the five starters, Moore, Banchero, Mark Williams and Jeremy Roach all ended the game with four fouls. Of the starters, only Trevor Keels–who had his own issues, shooting just 25% from the field–wasn’t teetering on the edge of fouling out: he had two.
Fouls weren’t the only messiness from the Blue Devils. They were outrebounded by the Buckeyes 40-36. They were outshot everywhere on the court. The Buckeyes, though, committed nine less fouls, had more second chance points, more points ofd the bench and fewer turnovers. Long story short, the No. 1 Blue Devils were outplayed.
One stat: 38.5 shooting percentage
Duke’s shooting was its biggest weakness. The team shot 38.5% from the field and 28.6% from three, continuing its long-ball woes. For a program that was averaging 48.7% on field goal shooting, this flaw was uncharacteristic–and too much for the defense to overcome. Moore seemed to be the only one who could score, making 7-of-15 attempts. The freshman powerhouse duo of Paolo Banchero and Trevor Keels went 4-for-14 and 3-for-12 from the field, respectively.
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Yet again, the Blue Devils have failed to find production outside the arc. Of their 14 attempts, they only made four. Ohio State, on the other hand, shot 40% from three. Until now, Duke’s production inside the paint has been enough to overcome their lack of threes. Then, against Ohio State, especially in the second half, the Blue Devils couldn’t score from anywhere; in the last four-and-a-half minutes, they were outscored by the Buckeyes 12-1.