After each Duke men’s basketball game this season, check back here for the Player of the Game and more. The Blue Devils stayed alive in the Phil Knight Legacy after taking down Xavier, and the Blue Zone breaks down the game:
One player: Jeremy Roach
After a middling start to the year in scoring efficiency, Duke’s star point guard put on a shooting clinic in Portland, Ore. Roach went 9-of-15 from the field and 2-of-4 from outside the arc to score a season-high 21 points. The Blue Devils’ captain filled out the entire stat sheet on Friday night, adding four rebounds, five assists and two steals.
Perhaps Roach’s most difficult make of his fifteen shots occurred with 8:15 left in the game. With Xavier knocking on Duke’s doorstep with just a three-point deficit, Roach attempted to drive to the basket, but, facing defenders, switched up his approach mid-play. Just outside of the paint, Roach spun around, earning a good look over Xavier guard Souley Boum. The junior made the bucket, extending Duke’s lead to five in a microcosm of one of his best career performances.
One word: Reinvigorated
After scoring just 54 points in a tightly-contested win against Oregon State Thursday, the lowest total for Duke men’s basketball in nearly three years, the Blue Devils’ offense returned to form Friday afternoon. Centers Kyle Filipowski and Ryan Young, who both registered double-doubles Thursday, took on much-needed reduced workloads against Xavier, as Roach and forward Mark Mitchell combined for 37 points. Thanks to a more efficient offensive attack, the Blue Devils’ largest lead of the night was 13 points, giving them more breathing room in a decisive contest of the tournament. Additionally, Duke scaled back its outside shooting; after making just 5-of-29 threes against Oregon State, the Blue Devils only attempted 11, focusing instead on paint scoring and mid-range shots. This adjusted approach may not be sustainable long-term, as teams will contest Duke’s big men underneath the rim, but the Blue Devils’ movement away from the outside shot wasn’t a problem in an otherwise strong offensive showcase.
One stat: 20 points off the bench
Duke’s high degree of depth was present Friday afternoon, as the Blue Devils’ bench outscored the Musketeers’ bench 20-10. Working his way back from a foot injury suffered in August, freshman forward Dariq Whitehead contributed five points and a pair of rebounds, including a 3-pointer with 6:40 left in the first period to begin a 19-9 run by Duke going into halftime. Young also played well; after a career day against Oregon State, he scored eight points and garnered six boards against Xavier, including five of the Blue Devils’ nine offensive rebounds. Sophomore guard Jaylen Blakes played nearly 25 minutes, a new career-high for him, adding five points to Duke’s total of 20 off the bench.
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