And one: Filipowski's big night, efficient shooting power No. 21 Duke men's basketball to victory against Hofstra

Sophomore center Kyle Filipowski shoots a 3-pointer against Hofstra.
Sophomore center Kyle Filipowski shoots a 3-pointer against Hofstra.

After each Duke men’s basketball game this season, check back here for the Player of the Game and more. The Blue Devils stayed hot Tuesday against Hofstra, riding a strong second half to a 89-68 victory:

One player: Kyle Filipowski

Sophomore center Kyle Filipowski was the preseason standout on this year’s Duke roster. He was named to the Preseason All-ACC First Team and All-American First Team, and selected as ACC Preseason Player of the Year. His performance against Hofstra proved why. 

The 7-footer tallied up an incredible line. He led the team in scoring with 28 points while shooting 62.5% from the field, including four made threes. Filipowski grabbed 12 off the glass to qualify for a double-double — the 19th of his career. The Westtown, N.Y., native also co-led the team in assists with a career-high eight, consistently showing off his growing court vision and ability to pass out of a double team. Add on three blocks on the defensive end, and it is clear that Filipowski played a dominant role in all aspects of the game. 

A notable caveat to this outing was Filipowski’s team-leading seven turnovers. Head coach Jon Scheyer poked fun at this entry in his box score, saying that he was “closer to a quadruple-double in turnovers,” according to Filipowski. Jokes aside, running the offense so intensely through Filipowski in the absence of sophomore point guard Tyrese Proctor gave him more pronounced ball-security issues. As the season progresses and the Blue Devils’ offense continues to evolve, limiting turnovers while maintaining improved passing will be a key step in the development of the preseason All-American.

Such an impressive performance is made even more important when viewed in context. The projected NBA lottery pick came off of a night against Charlotte where he scored only five points in 32 minutes and shot 20% from the field. Tuesday night was a critical chance for Filipowski to return to full form following a tough outing, as he can now head into a matchup against No. 6 Baylor with some added confidence. Duke will need the sophomore to be the offensive Swiss Army knife that he can be if they want to earn a much-needed win against one of the nation’s best teams.

One word: Chemistry

Offensive cohesion has been a notable problem for the Blue Devils early in the season. In recent losses to Arkansas and Georgia Tech, the team struggled to move the ball and create opportunities for each other. They registered only 10 and 12 assists as a team in these contests, respectively. With the absence of Proctor — Duke’s primary distributor — there was reason to worry that the offense would grind to a halt. However, the Blue Devils flipped this narrative Tuesday. The team racked up 22 assists against the Pride, an effort spearheaded by senior guard Jeremy Roach and Filipowski. The duo each dished out eight, establishing their ability to command the offensive side of the floor even without Proctor. 

The team’s improved chemistry had a vividly apparent impact. It allowed for four of the starters to score in double digits — and freshman guard Caleb Foster just missed the mark with nine. One of Duke’s strongest assets is the depth of its roster, and continuing to dip into the full extent of scoring potential on the floor will be crucial moving forward. 

One stat: 50% from three

The Blue Devils entered the season marketed as a team with elite potential to shoot from deep. A wealth of guard talent combined with Filipowski’s ability to stretch the floor pointed towards a nationally-impressive level of 3-point shooting. However, in its first eight games of the season, Duke shot only 33.3% from beyond the arc. The looks were there, the talent was on the floor, but the shots just did not fall. 

In the past two games since their back-to-back losses, the Blue Devils have begun a very positive turnaround. The team was 55.6% from beyond the arc against Charlotte. Against Hofstra, the team continued the upward trend, as it shot 50% on 22 attempts. Filipowski was 4-of-7 from deep while Roach and McCain each had three makes on five and four attempts, respectively. Beyond serving as a key contributor to the win on Tuesday, shooting at this level provides an instrumental boost in confidence moving into the upcoming game against Baylor. Basketball is, of course, a game of runs. A multi-game run of hot shooting from this talented Duke roster would be hard for any team in the country to contain. 


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