And one: McCain's play, complete team performance lead Duke men's basketball past Queens

Freshman Jared McCain led the Blue Devils past Queens with 24 points.
Freshman Jared McCain led the Blue Devils past Queens with 24 points.

After each Duke men’s basketball game this season, check back here for the Player of the Game and more. The 16th-ranked Blue Devils flushed Queens Saturday afternoon in a 106-69 win, and the Blue Zone is here to break down the contest:

One player: Jared McCain

As the lights of Christmas faded away, star freshman Jared McCain had a lights-out performance in Duke’s big win. Donning red and green nail polish, McCain opened his scoring with a layup and never looked back, finishing with a career-high 24 points, 17 coming in the first half. The Sacramento, Calif., native shot 4-of-9 from behind the arc and added three steals on the other end for arguably his best outing so far in the blue and white. 

Playing to his strengths, the guard was left open often on the outside, where he was able to get shots up or drive in for his signature midrange jumpers. McCain was 9-of-14 on field goals, his best performance dating back to the game against Southern Indiana. His highlight came in the second half, as sophomore forward Mark Mitchell handed off a rebound to McCain, who drove the length of the floor before crossing up a defender, then going behind his back and up with his left to finish a tough layup over the outstretched arms of two defenders to widen the Blue Devils’ lead. The freshman has performed admirably in the recent window for Duke, and Saturday was his fourth straight game with double-digit points and his third of those four with more than 20.

One word: Complete

The Blue Devils led from start to finish Saturday, and the team’s performance was nothing short of dominant. Duke racked up an impressive 106 points along with 40 made field goals. The Blue Devils also played well defensively, and the 11 blocks and 11 steals they tallied are both season highs. Additionally, the squad also had a season-high in assists with 24, led by four from both Jeremy Roach and Tyrese Proctor, who made his return Saturday after missing three full games with a left ankle sprain suffered in the loss at Georgia Tech. The play against Queens is something head coach Jon Scheyer and Duke fans should be pleased with as the Blue Devils close out the non-conference slate and calendar year with their fourth straight win. ACC play will resume on Jan. 2 as the Syracuse Orange travel to Durham for Duke’s first conference test of 2024. 

One stat: 11 blocks

The Blue Devils’ defense was some of their best of the season versus the Royals. The 11 blocks were the most of this year's campaign by a landslide — the previous high was six, recorded both against Georgia Tech and Dartmouth. That effort was led by sophomore Kyle Filipowski, who tallied a career-high five blocks and two steals. Queens’ leading scorer coming into the game, guard AJ McKee, was held scoreless in the first half, and the Royals had just two players in double figures. This was largely due to Duke’s defensive pressure throughout the game, and the Blue Devils found success in rebounding defensively. Duke also forced 19 turnovers, off of which it scored 33 points. 11 blocks is a big bounceback from the win against Baylor, which saw zero swats. While the offense wrote the narrative for the Blue Devils Saturday, they will certainly look to continue the momentum generated on both ends as the heat of ACC play begins in January.


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