Duke men's basketball heats up from 3-point line to down Bellarmine at home

<p>Tyrese Proctor lets loose a 3-pointer during the first half of Duke's 74-57 win against Bellarmine.</p>

Tyrese Proctor lets loose a 3-pointer during the first half of Duke's 74-57 win against Bellarmine.

The game had all the makings of an upset and at points, even felt like it could be one. 

But in the end, No. 8 Duke topped Bellarmine 74-57 in Cameron Indoor Stadium Monday night, relying on a season-high 14 threes and tough defense to outlast the Knights’ experienced roster. This was one of the Blue Devils’ more balanced performances of the season, with three players contributing double digits and eight players logging an assist. One of the three was graduate transfer Jacob Grandison, who finished with 16 points in his best offensive performance of the season. 

"For us, it was just about the preparation," head coach Jon Scheyer said of how the team did not overlook Bellarmine. "Something that we said is just 'Be in this moment.' Don't go to Portland yet. You go to Portland mentally and you're gonna lose this game."

Despite Duke’s healthy margin of victory, Bellarmine made the Blue Devils work for it all game. 

Almost every time it felt like Duke (4-1) was about to take command, Bellarmine fought back. Freshman forward Mark Mitchell sent the Cameron Indoor crowd into a frenzy with a steal and transition dunk at the 13:56 mark of the second half and yet immediately after, Bellarmine’s Ben Johnson made an and-one to keep it just close enough to make it interesting. 

Duke never had the dagger sequence that fully took the wind out of Bellarmine’s sails. The Blue Devils more so just stayed committed to forcing the Knights (2-3) to make tough shots and outrebounded them by enough of a margin (37-25) to keep the game out of reach. 

Duke came out of halftime determined to curb any momentum Bellarmine had after the visiting team’s run at the end of the first half. Mitchell drained a corner three, then 7-foot freshman Kyle Filipowski followed it up with his own triple. 

But Bellarmine had no interest in handing Duke the win. The Knights fired back with some pesky defense of their own and knocked down a three and a jumper to cut Duke’s lead down to 52-42 with 16:06 remaining. 

The Knights had the same fight from the beginning. 

Bellarmine jumped out to a 7-6 lead by the first media timeout, and even though head coach Jon Scheyer’s crew eventually got out to a 16-point lead during the first half, the Knights clawed back. 

The Blue Devils cranked up their defensive intensity out of that first media timeout and forced Bellarmine to work deep into the shot clock for many of its buckets during the half. A combination of Duke’s athleticism and length made for a difficult evening for the Knights, forcing them to rely on backdoor cuts and difficult looks to hang around. 

Duke’s defense contributed to its offense, too. On one sequence, freshman center Dereck Lively II blocked a Bellarmine layup and sophomore guard Jaylen Blakes finished a difficult and-one on the other end of the floor to put Duke up 15-9. 

"I really just think it just comes down to trust," Lively said of the defense. "I know each individual here on this team trusts one another so we know that we're gonna talk, make sure we stay on our man, make sure we stay home and do what we need to do to win."

Outside of the stifling defense, Duke found its stroke from 3-point range early. The Blue Devils shot 8-of-17 from deep in the first half with five different players recording a triple. Freshman guard Tyrese Proctor knocked down two of the eight, picking up right where he left off against Delaware after he struggled offensively in the first three games of his college career. 

"We knew we were gonna get open looks so we just got to be shot-ready and be ready to make the shot," junior guard Jeremy Roach said. 

Despite the offensive bursts from Proctor, his fellow freshman Lively was once again relatively dormant on the offensive end. The 7-foot-1 center finished the evening with two points and did not record a field goal in the first half. 

As has been the case in Duke’s first four games, Filipowski shined on offense. After an air ball to start the game, Filipowski drained two consecutive threes to account for the Blue Devils’ first six points of the contest and finished with 18 points and seven rebounds. 

"I wasn't really hesitating or second-guessing myself," Filipowski said. 

The Blue Devils will hit the road and head west for their next game Thursday against Oregon State in the first round of the Phil Knight Legacy tournament in Portland, Ore. 

Jake C. Piazza

Jake Piazza is a Trinity senior and was sports editor of The Chronicle's 117th volume.


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