Game Notes: vs. Boston College

Duke faces yet another challenger that won’t bring back great memories for those of us around last year: the top-ranked Blue Devils were toppled by the Eagles in a shocking upset. It wasn’t a random thing: we had our flaws but Boston College shot miraculously well especially from range. This year, though, is a different story. BC does not return Jerome Robinson, who was easily the leader throughout the season and in the game with 24 points at BCV, but they do still have both Jordan Chatman and Ky Bowman, who combined for 52 points last year.

However, again, this is not the same Duke team coming into this game. The 2017-2018 Blue Devils were not the most profound defensive team at the time of the loss (we still love you guys, but let’s be honest). Different story this time: we’re currently ranked fourth in the country in defensive efficiency as well as tenth in the country in offensive efficiency. With those two statistics in mind as well as the atmosphere that is Cameron Indoor Stadium, always a difference maker, BC faces a challenge much different than last year.

Also, there happen to be these two guys named Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett. Not that they’ll be a factor or anything.

Game Notes

Boston College Eagles at Duke Blue Devils

Date: Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Time: 7:00 PM ET

Venue: Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham, NC

TV: ESPN

Radio: Blue Devil IMG Sports Network

Bleed blue.

Duke Annihilates St. John’s, 91-61

Duke fans knew coming into this game that St. John’s was dangerous. Shamorie Ponds, especially: last year, he put up 33 in an upset in MSG against the Blue Devils. Tre Jones decided that history would not repeat.

Zion Williamson had 29, Cam Reddish had 16, and Duke shut down St. John’s main offensive weapons to get a smashing win in Cameron over the St. John’s Red Storm, 91-61. Cam Reddish was the spark early on with 11 first half points, and especially as the game went on, Zion couldn’t be contained. He stuffed the stat sheet with 29 points on 13-17 shooting, 4 blocks, 5 steals, and 6 rebounds. Believe me, there are highlights to come. Good Gods of Basketball, this isn’t fair.

Also, he, by himself, beat all of NC State today. Just sayin’.

The anchor of this win, however amazing Zion was, had to have been Tre Jones’ lockdown defense. Shamorie Ponds, the dangerous point guard that dropped 33 last year against Duke in an upset in MSG, did not hit a shot in the first half. He finished the day 3-11 from the field. This is no knock on Ponds as we’ve seen the great scorer that he is; it was all Tre today and he set the standard for the rest of the team.

St. John’s came in with an aggressive mentality, which showed during the game. In the first half, a flagrant 1 was actually assessed to St. John’s Marvin Clark and the physicality continued throughout the game, but the team handled it well, an important experience come late February and March.

The highlights (still to come) were great and all, but my favorite play of the game was when the ball went loose and every player on the court wearing blue and white dove to the ground at some point to get it. The call did not end up going in our favor as the referee called a held ball, mostly in order to keep the play under control. What are likely to be the #1 and #2 picks in the draft don’t care about getting the next highlight play or 40 point game: they care about the team win, even when it gets gritty, and that’s what makes them great.

Now, finally, for the highlights:

Duke Cruises by Notre Dame, 83-61

Zion Williamson scored 26 along with 9 rebounds and 4 blocks, RJ Barrett had 17, and Duke cruised by Notre Dame in South Bend without too much trouble. The Blue Devils garnered a 17-2 lead early and never really looked back. Notre Dame did fight the whole game, an admirable show of perseverance.

A lot of the news in college basketball this week were about how Duke was unable to shoot the three; Duke came out of the bat with 2 shots from distance, making both, an continued to shoot well and intelligently with well-placed shots on a 52.6% mark overall (10-19). Tre Jones shot well and very efficiently, his mark at 9 points on 4-6. Alex O’Connell played well, getting 7 points in 9 minutes of play. Both players made at least one three pointer.

The defensive effort was impressive as Notre Dame, a generally good shooting team with a lane presence in double-double machine John Mooney, shot just above 34% overall and 33.3% from beyond the arc. Mooney had a good game but shot a low 4-15, like many of his teammates that scored on the higher end.

Notre Dame tried to stay in it and even got it to 32-23 at one point but that hope was all but squashed by a Zion Williamson 3-pointer. From that point the lead stayed in the 20 range and didn’t move much.

Now, we get to the highlights! Zion had a Superman-like block (okay, it was technically goaltending, but it didn’t get called).

Bleed blue. Duke returns to Cameron next weekend to take on St. John’s.

Game Notes: Duke at Notre Dame

Duke travels up North this week to take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. The Irish are in a down year after losing veterans Bonzie Colson and Matt Farrell, but of course there’s no down game in the ACC and these guys are nothing to sleep on. Notre Dame does face a four-game losing streak at the moment.

Duke Blue Devils at Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Date: Monday, January 28, 2019

Time: 7:00pm ET

Venue: Edmund P. Joyce Athletic and Convocation Center

TV: ESPN

Radio: Blue Devil IMG Sports Network

Leading Scorer, Duke: RJ Barrett, 23.9 PPG

It should also be noted that Zion Williamson is literally right behind him at 21.7 PPG.

Leading Scorer, Notre Dame: John Mooney, 14.4

Streak, Duke: W3

Streak, Notre Dame: L4

Bleed blue.

Duke Comes Back to Beat Gritty Ga. Tech, 66-53

The score doesn’t tell the story of a game that was truly two in one this Saturday afternoon. Duke defeated Georgia Tech 66-53 after trailing by as many as eight in the second half. Zion and RJ yet again combined for over 40 points. In the first half, especially towards the end, the shots just weren’t falling. You can credit Tech’s defense: they defended the basket well and it took Duke a little bit to figure out a type of zone of the likes they hadn’t seen. They weren’t going to let RJ and Zion bully them in the paint and were willing to sacrifice some outside defense. After a timeout taken by Coach K and a Zion Williamson dunk, however, you could tell that the Jackets’ lead wouldn’t last and the momentum switched remarkably.

With 18 minutes to go in the second half, Duke trailed by 8 and took a timeout. After that timeout, Duke outscored Georgia Tech 39-18. Zion Williamson had some SportsCenter-worthy dunks (as per usual) to get the crowd into it and in just those 18 minutes Duke was able to rout the Yellow Jackets. We do need to remember, though, that

The big storyline today was the return of Tre Jones. We’re very happy to see that Tre was comfortable and even started and played 35 minutes. His shoulder didn’t seem to affect him. It was certainly Duke’s worst offensive outing of the season as the connection wasn’t automatic but it got going in the final minutes with a 26-point turnaround after falling behind by 8 (Tech scored the last 5 points of the game; the lead was, until then, 18).

The three-point shooting continues to be a big issue for the Blue Devils. Jack White has not produced of late and Cam Reddish hasn’t been as effective as we’d like him to be. RJ Barrett’s shot is still a work in progress, as versatile as he is. As long as the production on the defensive end is still high I see it as a smaller issue, but that’s something that needs to change come March. We’re getting in the the thick of the season and the two guys that we will look to are Jack White and Cam Reddish to knock those down.

I’d like to give a shoutout to our coaching staff today for supporting Coaches vs. Cancer’s Suits and Sneakers Week Campaign. Coach K himself wore the off-white Air Force 1’s while the assistant coaches repped Brotherhood member Kyrie.

Bleed blue.

Tre Jones Update and Ga. Tech

Tre Jones, after suffering an AC Joint Separation against Syracuse closing on two weeks ago, has been upgraded to “probable” for today’s matchup with Georgia Tech. As Duke fans we’re certainly excited to get him back, but need it be so soon? The last thing we need is a re-aggravated injury. A win against one of the best teams in the country in Virginia proves that we can survive without him if necessary and the offense has been a lot more fluid– when Tre was gone all of a sudden at Syracuse, I think it was a bit of a shock. It’s a home game in which Duke is -22.5. To be totally honest, I don’t really want him to come back now but I’m trusting the medical staff on this one.

Georgia Tech has played some good defense this year, but one of their main weaknesses against Duke will be size and talent. Talent is a problem for most teams but Georgia Tech plays small. However, it’s an area of focus for the Blue Devils as well– much like Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech uses its guards to get fouls in the interior. Jose Alvarado is much like Pittsburgh’s Trey McGowens and Xavier Johnson, getting the to the line a lot with drives. Duke, however, did an excellent job of stopping that and playing hands-up defense, as neither scored a point from the line. Georgia Tech has, however, been competitive with good teams and even beaten Syracuse (a surprising manhandling of the 2-3 zone). They’re good on both ends of the court. This is no down game.

Here are the game notes:

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Duke Blue Devils

Time: 12:00pm

Date: Saturday, January 26, 2019

Venue: Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham, NC

TV: ACC Network

Radio: Blue Devil IMG Sports Network

Stream: WatchESPN

Bleed blue.