NEW YORK—No Tyrese Proctor, no problem.
It was a back-and-forth battle for most of the 40 minutes of play. At the neutral site but spurred on by a Duke-dominated crowd roughly twice the size of Cameron Indoor Stadium’s full capacity, the 21st-ranked Blue Devils came back from a six-minute second half deficit to topple the 10th-ranked Bears 78-70. Jared McCain led the winning effort with 21 points on 7-of-11 shooting, tying his career high.
"We felt this was our moment," head coach Jon Scheyer said after the statement win.
After trailing for much of the second half, the Blue Devils (8-3, 0-1 in the ACC) found a burst with under six minutes to play. Ryan Young scored Duke’s first bench points of the night on a go-ahead layup. He and Jeremy Roach (18 points) then forced a held ball turnover after a whiff from Yves Missi and the senior sunk a long two on his own end. The graduate captain then grabbed a defensive board, fed the ball to Roach, received a pass back and found a wide-open McCain on the corner. There was never a question about it; the three was good and Duke had fought its way back to a seven-point lead with less than four minutes to play.
"[Young] had the best sequence of the game to finish..." Scheyer said of the 6-foot-10 center's final few minutes and four points, which put his career total over 1,000. "That's a big time sequence, it really extended that lead and put us in great position to win."
After a Langston Love and-one tied the score at 57, the Blue Devils set up shop on their own offensive end. McCain found a driving Caleb Foster, who threaded the needle for two points at the rim and the lead. On the subsequent possession, however, Kyle Filipowski was called for his fourth foul (the team’s seventh). Ja’Kobe Walter made both free throws and Young relieved the standout sophomore with a tied score and seven minutes to play. Foster got his third start in Proctor’s absence, as the sophomore is still sidelined with an ankle injury.
On Wednesday night, when the Blue Devil offense sputtered, as it has countless times this season, it turned to McCain. With 10:18 to play and a four-point deficit, the freshman drilled a 3-pointer from the corner next to his bench. What looked like 15,000 Duke fans (and sounded like more) popped up from their seats. Baylor (10-1) missed two layups and Foster drove for an easy bucket himself. With under 10 minutes to play, the Blue Devils had the lead once more, and every spectator in blue was standing and screaming. The adage “Cameron North” rang true as chants of “let’s go Duke” filled Madison Square Garden.
"I was just saying out there, 'it's just man time. You just gotta be a man,'" Roach said after the game.
Duke fell cold after a McCain layup just more than two-and-a-half minutes into the second period. After two McCain free throws extended the Blue Devils lead to two, they gave up eight straight, with their own possessions falling short either in turnovers or misses. Mark Mitchell finally broke through at the rim to end a three-plus minute field goal drought, bringing the score to 48-44.
Filipowski, while effective on both the offensive and defensive glass with 10 rebounds, was inefficient in his scoring effort. While he ended with 13 points, it was on a measly 5-for-14 clip.
Out of the halftime break, the Bears continued right where they left off. Filipowski missed a layup on the opening possession, and Walter turned it into a quick three and a one-point lead. He notched the next two points as well on a layup after a Mitchell foul. It took Duke nearly two minutes to get its first points, which came on a Mitchell offensive board and subsequent dunk. However, the Bears proceeded to turn the ball over three times in just more than four minutes of play.
The Blue Devils held a 26-16 lead with 8:31 remaining in the first half. Less than three minutes later, Baylor had scored nine unanswered. What had momentarily looked to be a blowout was then a one-point game, and that margin would remain close through the end of the first period.
In their loss to Michigan State, the Bears only had 20 total boards. In 20 minutes against Duke, they had 18, seven of which were at the hands of the 7-foot freshman Yves Missi. The center feasted to close out the first half, scoring nine of Baylor’s final 13; he alone outscored the Blue Devils over that near-eight-minute stretch.
Midway through the first half, freshman forward TJ Power defended a Love layup attempt, but Walter was able to grab the rebound — only the team’s second offensive board at that point — for two easy points at the rim. The Baylor crowd, after scoring four straight to cut its deficit to eight, roared, overpowering the majority in blue. It didn’t last long. Roach responded seconds later, exploiting a gap in the paint for a layup of his own and silencing the Bears fans.
Just days after a 28-point showing from Filipowski against Hofstra, the guards had their fun. With all 11 points at the under-16 media timeout, McCain’s jumper propelled the Blue Devils to their early lead and kept them in front until 2:46 remained in the first half. And even when the shots didn’t fall, Duke was able to grab its own misses — with 11 minutes remaining in the first, it had four offensive rebounds while Baylor only had two defensive boards.
"When they could have folded, they rose to the occasion," Roach said of Foster and McCain.
Duke returns home after the holiday, taking on Queens at Cameron Indoor Dec. 30.
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Rachael Kaplan is a Trinity junior and sports managing editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.