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 the Blue Devils’ big 88-70 win to knot up the regular season series against Florida State.
One player: Wendell Moore Jr.
After a quiet stretch of games entering the conference season, Wendell Moore Jr. is now back into the ACC player of the year conversation. The junior wing had another solid performance against Florida State as he had 16 points, five rebounds, seven assists and an impressive six steals. "Captain Zero" was a problem on both sides of the court on Saturday as his ability to pick-pocket his opponent and capitalize in the paint gave the Blue Devils the edge.
A big theme at the start of this season was Moore's reliability. He was consistently racking up both offensive and defensive stats, and his leadership was truly showing. Again, the Charlotte native has been playing to this caliber once again. He is getting hot at the right time with several tough ACC matchups coming up as well as the ACC and NCAA tournaments. Expect Moore to lead Coach K’s squad as Duke looks to close out the regular season on a run.
One word: Sharing
The big story of the game was the fact that Duke had six players in double figures. Paolo Banchero scored 17 points, Moore had 16, AJ Griffin had 15, Trevor Keels totaled 13, Joey Baker notched 12 and Mark Williams added 10 of his own. All of these players having a big night made it very hard for Florida State to keep up—especially late in the first and throughout the second half.
This feat was made possible given Duke’s ability to move the ball. The Blue Devils had 25 assists and their first five field goals were made off of a pass. This shows that not only does Duke have a deep lineup where anyone can step up, but it also has an unselfish one. These are very important qualities that a top-tier team must have, especially one that wants to make a run in the tournament. Watch for how Duke’s chemistry and creativity develops before postseason play commences.
One stat: 4 first half points for Paolo Banchero
As stated earlier, Banchero had 17 points, which is a great night for the freshman. However, just four of those were scored in the first half as the projected lottery pick ran into foul trouble early in the game. A similar thing happened during the previous game against Wake Forest, and it definitely changed the course of the game for Duke. It’s obvious that the Blue Devils are more dominant when Banchero is at his best due to his physicality and ability to create shots for himself and his teammates. It will be crucial for Duke for the Seattle native to avoid foul trouble against Tony Bennett’s tough Virginia team on the road Wednesday night.
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