After each Duke men’s basketball game of the season, check back here for the Player of the Game and more. Led by Kyle Filipowski's career night, the Blue Devils beat Pittsburgh Wednesday night at home. The Blue Zone breaks it down:
One player: Kyle Filipowski
Duke’s freshman sensation has done it once again. Center Kyle Filipowski’s offensive production against Pittsburgh kept the Blue Devils in the game to come back and win after a 12-point deficit. The 19-year-old stuffed the stat sheets, finishing the contest with a career-high 28 points and 15 rebounds.
As one of the NCAA’s best rookies—he’s the first player to earn four-straight ACC Rookie of the Week honors since Duke's Jabari Parker—Filipowski put his best attributes on full display. The freshman's 7-foot stature and soft touch near the rim let him muscle his way into the paint to finish over defenders. Additionally, Filipowski did not let anyone forget that he can shoot—early in the second half, he jump-stopped into the paint to knock down a shot against a tough-defending Blake Hinson. To top it all off, the Westtown, N.Y., native found his way to the foul line many times, where he drained 11-of-13 attempts.
One word: Clutch
Time and time again, fans and players alike have seen that the game is not over until the final buzzer rings. Though the battle between the Blue Devils and the Panthers did not come down to the wire, Duke needed to stay clutch to log its 13th win of the season.
Heading into the second half, Pittsburgh led the game by 11 points. In the first half, graduate guard Jamarius Burton’s athleticism and strong shot-making skills proved too big of a burden for the Blue Devils’ defense. Yet, the Panthers’ control of the game was short-lived. Freshman guard Tyrese Proctor’s and-one midway through the second half cut the lead down to just two points. The Australian guard's electrifying play was the cherry on top of impressive defense from Dereck Lively II and strong offense from Dariq Whitehead. From then on, Duke did not look back, as its valiant team effort overshadowed Burton and the Panthers’ final push.
One stat: 51 rebounds
It is hard to argue that Duke played its best basketball against the Panthers. Pittsburgh had control for most of the game—it shot the ball better and had four less turnovers than the Blue Devils. But Duke made sure to do one thing better: rebound the ball. It was the Blue Devils’ rebounding that pulled them back into the contest to knock the Panthers out.
The home team outrebounded Pittsburgh 51-28. Most notably, Duke’s 24 offensive rebounds helped create easier second-chance looks that propelled leads and stole the momentum from the away team. Perhaps a strong-rebounding game like this is what the team needed all along to gain energy for more competitive ACC games on the horizon.
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