The Blue Devils made history when they landed the top three recruits in the 2018 class. And while Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish haven’t disappointed, it’s freshman floor general Tre Jones who will be the catalyst to Duke’s long-term success.
Jones sets the pace and facilitates plays, but more importantly his on-the-ball defense is second to none in college basketball and it was on full display Saturday night when the Blue Devils defeated Yale 91-58 at Cameron Indoor. Diving for loose balls, deflecting passes and going for steals – Tre seemed to be on the floor as much as he was on his feet and that scrappy energy permeated his Blue Devils teammates.
“He’s just going to be somebody that has to recover after every game because he plays so darn hard,” Coach K told reporters after the win. “It all starts with his pressure on the ball. [Alex] Copeland is a really good guard, but he had to fight Tre the whole night. That makes it easier for all of our other guys to play defense. If we become the team that we’re going to be defensively, Tre will be as valuable a defender as there is in the country because of what he does.”
RJ Barrett pointed out after the game that Jones’ swarming defense on opposing point guards is nothing new.
“He does that every game. He takes the point guard out every game.”
It’s no secret that all of Coach K’s championship squads have had strong play at the point guard position and as Jones continues to mature, his contribution to this team will be an integral part of Duke’s championship aspirations.
- Freshman RJ Barrett led all scorers with 30 points, along with seven rebounds and six assists. It is his second 30-point game this season and he is the first Duke freshman in history to go for 30+ points, 5+ rebounds and 5+ assists in a game.
- Barrett’s 242 points through the first 10 games of his career are the most by a Duke freshman through the first 10 games, surpassing the 220 by both Marvin Bagley III (2017-18) and Jabari Parker (2013-14).
- Freshman Zion Williamson had 20 points, eight rebounds, four assists and two steals. His 204 points through the first 10 games are fourth-most by a Duke freshman.
- Junior Jack White set a career-high with 12 rebounds, surpassing the 11 he had versus Kentucky. He had nine points to finish a point shy of his first career double-double.
- Junior Javin DeLaurier made his sixth career start (first this season), and was 3-for-3 from the field. He is 8- for-8 from the field over the last two games and 12-for-15 over the last three.
- Freshman Cam Reddish matched his career-high with a game-high four steals.
- Duke had 16 steals in the game, its fourth straight game with double-digit steals. The Blue Devils entered the game fifth in the NCAA in steals per game (10.6).
- Duke, which entered the game leading the nation in blocked shots per game at 7.7, blocked six.