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 deeper look at the Blue Devils' narrow loss to Miami:
One player: Paolo Banchero
Yet again, freshman Paolo Banchero showed out, putting up a 20-point performance for the fifth time this season. He got off to a slow start, making only one field goal and committing two turnovers in the first half. In the second half, he had a resurgence. Banchero often seemed to be the team’s only reliable offense, making 6-of-10 attempts from the field and going 6-of-7 from the line. He also made two 3-pointers on a day when no Duke long ball seemed to fall. The freshman's size and strength gave him a leg up in the paint on a smaller Miami team, which he used to his advantage. On the other end of the court, Banchero was just as effective. He grabbed seven rebounds and had two blocks, but Duke still couldn’t pull off the comeback in the final minute.
One word: Rusty
Duke’s play was messy; there is no denying that. The lack of practice since the team’s 12-day COVID break appears to have heavily impacted its offensive flow and production. While Duke attempted 21 threes, it only made six. The Blue Devils shot 45.7% from the field, but many of their possessions were without an attempt, as Miami had 15 steals and forced 17 turnovers. Miami guard Charlie Moore alone grabbed seven steals, with five of those coming in the first half.
One bright spot for the Blue Devils throughout the game was rebounding. They grabbed 44 rebounds to Miami’s 30, dominating the boards. However, when the game came down to it, the Blue Devils couldn’t deliver: Moore missed his and-one free throw with Duke up by one in the final minute, and a Blue Devil rebound would have given Duke the upper hand. Banchero couldn’t pull it down, and Kameron McGusty sank the floater seconds later to give Miami the lead for good.
One stat: 17 turnovers
Duke’s 17 turnovers, on a stat sheet, look like an outlier. The Blue Devils are averaging less than 10 turnovers a game, but against Miami, they could not hold onto the ball. The Hurricanes' strong paint defense jammed the Blue Devils underneath the basket, oftentimes stripping or poking the ball out and forcing Duke to hoist 21 3-point attempts that it struggled to make. A large number of offensive possessions seemed to end with a missed shot or a loose ball that eventually wound up in the hands of a Miami player. It is crucial for the Blue Devils that they don’t repeat history going forward, and that this outlier remains just that.
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