Duke was back in Cameron Indoor Wednesday night hosting Hartford and while the Blue Devils defeated the Eagles 84-54, the final 30-point margin doesn’t paint a complete picture of the game.
Much like Duke’s Veteran’s Day win over Army, the Blue Devils were challenged in the first half. Zion Williamson uncharacteristically missed dunks, shots weren’t falling from behind the arc (nearly half of the Blue Devils’ attempts in the first half were from 3-point range where they were only 3-16) and defense was caught slipping on several possessions.
“I think early on, we got on them [Hartford] early,” freshmen guard Tre Jones said after the game. “But as we started missing shots we lost energy on the defensive end. Then they started hitting shots and it almost flipped – they got the energy and we didn’t have the energy any more.”
Duke headed to the locker room with a 9-point halftime lead that the Eagles would cut to 5 with 18:23 remaining in the contest. Then the Blue Devils woke up. Intensity ramped up on the defensive end, leading to easy transition buckets on the offensive end and before you knew it a 22-3 run put the Eagles away for good.
“I thought they played harder than we did for about 22 minutes, and then we played as hard or a little bit harder,” Coach K said. “We really played good defense. We really played well the last 16-17 minutes of the game, obviously, or else the game would’ve been a close game. It wasn’t at the end because we played so hard. Our defense got ramped up.”
The foundation for March and April is laid in November and December and with tough conference play around the corner the Blue Devils won’t be able to afford 1st half lapses like they had Wednesday night and Zion Williamson knows it.
“It just shows that, ‘any day…’ If this was March Madness and we kept playing sloppy, we could’ve probably lost and the season would’ve been over. It just shows that you’ve got to come mentally prepared for every game.”
Next up the Blue Devils will host Yale Saturday at 5:30 pm.
- Freshman RJ Barrett led all scorers with 27 points and had a career-high 15 rebounds for his first career double-double.
- Freshman Zion Williamson had 18 points and 12 rebounds for his third career double-double
- Junior Javin DeLaurier recorded a career-high five blocked shots.
- Freshman Tre Jones had entered the game with no turnovers in his last two games. His streak of turnover-free ball ended after 106:20 of game action with a turnover with 10 seconds remaining in the first half.
- Duke’s home non-conference winning streak now stands at 144 games – the nation’s longest active streak