Coach K and players have been saying all preseason that the identity of this year’s Duke team would be it’s defense. Tuesday night, against the #3 team in the country, they proved it.
There is an expectation that opening games won’t be the prettiest and this was no exception. There were a lot of missed shots around the rim and 47 total turnovers (28 made by the Jayhawks). But it was the fight that the Blue Devils showed after Kansas came out of halftime and outscored them 13-5, that was the difference maker.
“We know it’s a long game,” Captain Javin Delaurier said after the win. “We got hit in the mouth, but how are we going to respond? Who are we going to be?”
It was in that moment that, despite offensive struggles with about twelve minutes remaining in the game, Duke showed they have a lot of fight.
“We knew they were not going to lay down and we’re not going to lay down,” Cassius Stanley said after the game. “So, it’s going to be a dog fight.
“That was a big-time game,” Coach K said. “We were fortunate to win. I thought we earned the win. If they would have won I would have thought they earned the win and that’s what makes it a great game.”
- Duke is now 8-5 in the series versus Kansas, including 1-2 versus Kansas in the State Farm Champions Classic. The win by Duke broke a three-game winning streak in the series by Kansas.
- Duke is now 6-3 overall in the Champions Classic – the best record of the four-team field, and has won four straight in the event.
- Duke is now 38-2 in season openers under Coach K, and Duke now has won 20 consecutive season opening games.
- The game marked just the third time that Duke opened the season with a top-five matchup – two of them have come in the last two seasons, and Duke won both.
- The game featured 11 lead changes and 10 ties with Duke never leading by more than five (31-26) with 2:23 left in the first half.
- Sophomore Tre Jones scored a team-high 15 points, and finished with a game-high seven assists, six rebounds and two steals.
- Duke improved to 18-1 when Jones scores in double figures
- Nine Blue Devils played in the game, and eight scored, including four in double-figures.
- Freshman Cassius Stanley finished with 13 points one 5-of-6 shooting, with 11 of his points coming in the second half.
- Freshman Vernon Carey Jr., and Matthew Hurt each scored 11.