An Undermanned Duke Falls to Syracuse In OT, 95-91

This game looked absolutely awful from the start, and that’s how it ended out in Durham on Monday as #1 Duke was defeated by Syracuse in overtime, 95-91. From the moment it was announced that Cam Reddish wouldn’t start due to illness, especially after his late game heroics at Florida State, it certainly didn’t look like it was going to be a good night. That was confirmed: nothing seemed to go the Blue Devils’ way, and this loss is the least of their problems at this point. Zion Williamson scored 34, but it wasn’t enough as Tyus Battle had 30 for the Orange.

Tre Jones Injury

It doesn’t take a basketball whiz to figure this out: everything fell apart the minute Tre Jones left the game. Tre was having an awesome game– 4 steals in just 6 minutes of play– before colliding with Syracuse’s Frank Howard and leaving the game immediately. Cameron went silent. Tre is the foundation of this team: his on-ball defense anchors a very efficient defense for Duke (4 steals in 6 minutes!) and he’s a floor general on the other side of the court. Having lost him meant a huge blow for the Blue Devils, and it showed- from that point on, Syracuse outscored the Blue Devils 39-35 and we could not get rolling on defense.

Tre Jones suffered an AC joint separation and is out indefinitely. This means, essentially, that his collarbone has separated from his shoulder blade. Coach Krzyzewski said that there is no sign of breakage on the bones, which clears a big hurdle return-wise. You can learn more about AC joint separation here, but long-story-short, he’s in a lot of pain and return spans anywhere from 2 weeks to much worse.

The second half was just a fistfight, and despite having “fought like crazy” according to Coach K, shots were not falling at all, especially from three. Over the course of the game, Duke shot under 21% from beyond the arc despite taking 43 of them. Jack White had an off-game and just couldn’t hit, going 0-10 all on three-point shots and fouled out in 42 minutes of play. Duke actually shot less two-point shots than they did three-point shots, something a Syracuse zone can do to you. Syracuse, on the other hand, shot 44% from beyond the arc, something they haven’t been able to do all season long.

I feel like I haven’t payed enough attention to this side of the story: Zion went off for 35 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 blocks. RJ had 23 points, 9 assists, and 16 rebounds (that’s literally as close as you can get to a triple-double). Alex O’Connell had a career night with 16 points and 2 steals. Marques Bolden had 12 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 blocks. All of these guys had great games and I’m sure they’re not going to care now, but it’s still worth noting.

Cam Reddish was also out for this game, showing flu-like symptoms. In all honesty, take away two starters, one being the foundation on both sides of the court for Duke and one being the hot three-point shooter (hint there) coming off his best game yet, give Syracuse hot hands and give one of our best shooters a severe off night? You’ve got yourself this. Losing at home to Syracuse, of all teams, isn’t fun at all but the bright side is that it’s not as though we lost without a few scales tipping their way and at this point, we’ve got bigger problems to deal with.

#PrayForTre. That’s my takeaway from this game.

Bleed blue. Please, #PrayForTre.

Duke Returns Home for Syracuse on Monday

Duke’s come-from-behind win against Florida State will have to be put aside for now as we get ready for a Monday night contest with Syracuse in Cameron. Syracuse is very up-and-down this season, having wins against against current #16 Ohio State and Clemson, yet lost just two days ago to Georgia Tech by 14 at home and Oregon by 15. This game really depends on who shows up for the Orange.

Okay, we’ll let this one in. Now we have to start looking at Syracuse.

One big question mark left from Florida State is definitely the status of Zion Williamson. A late first half eye poke kept him out of the entire second half against Florida State and his availability uncertain. Zion is a huge factor, and the stats against Florida State shows it: Zion left with 1:26 left. Florida State, though they had started, immediately came roaring back to take the lead at the half after quite recently being down by 7. Duke had 12 offensive boards in the first half; in the second without Zion, we had three. Total. Marques Bolden is a huge reason why we won as he saved us with defensive rebounds.

Zion reportedly had “double vision”, though how is not specified, and it apparently cleared after the game. Coach K said that he will “hopefully” play against Syracuse, but there’s certainly no guarantee.

Duke will have to make it work against a good Syracuse team if Zion isn’t available, but the Florida State game is a good testament to the toughness of this team that can get through without him if necessary- toughness that we’ll need against Jim Boeheim, whose team always likes to play tough and sloooow; they will want to keep the possession numbers low to keep the point totals low.

Syracuse may be one of the worst teams in the country at shooting, but their defense is tough. Syracuse simply isn’t good enough to keep up with Duke offensively, so defense is really key and will have to hold a perfect storm to keep in it. If Zion’s in, however, Syracuse has absolutely no answers, period.

Game Notes

Duke Blue Devils vs. Syracuse Orange.

Time: 7:00pm EST

Date: January 14, 2018.

Venue: Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham, NC

TV: ESPN

Radio: Blue Devil IMG Sports Network

Bleed blue.

Duke Takes Road Trip for #13 Florida State

Duke gets its first huge road test this weekend as they travel to Tallahassee, Florida to take on #13 Florida State. #4 Virginia shut down the Seminoles, but don’t take that as any indication for this game as they’ll be looking to establish themselves as a major threat in both the ACC and on the National level, something for which they’ve been close to but never legitimate for. An excellent November was followed by a more meager December and early January, but it’s not going to be easy.

Florida State: Résumé, Players to Watch

The Seminoles come in with a 13-2 record, 1-1 in ACC play. The two losses came at Virginia and vs. Villanova in the AdvoCare Invitational Championship, with the most impressive win probably being an 81-60 throttling of in-state rival Florida, whom most thought would be at least competitive.

Florida State returns multiple players from last year’s upset Elite Eight run. One notable is 6-8, 230 F Phil Cofer, who gave the Blue Devils some serious trouble from three last January before we pulled out, 100-93 (the score being explanatory of the nature of the game!). While most would certainly say that the Blue Devil defense last year was not nearly as efficient as this year. Cofer is currently averaging just 7.4 PPG as he slowly comes back from an injury that kept him out the first 10, having played his most minutes all season last week against Miami, but we all know that if you give him space, he’ll shoot it and probably make it, too. Matchup-wise, there will be rotation, but mostly RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish will probably take him on.

One major issue, though, is that this year we’ll face a guy significantly taller than all of our guys: Christ Koumadje. The senior, native to N’Djamena, Chad, is 7 ft. 4, one of the tallest players in the NCAA. He only averages 16.8 minutes but Coach Leonard Hamilton may take a shot at our absence of height, especially when 6-11 center Marques Bolden takes a rest.

Florida State is pretty stacked. Cofer is just the start: Terance Mann is averaging 11 points, while David Nichols and PJ Savoy add fire off the bench. This is a tall, deep team that will attempt to use our weaknesses against us in a very anti-Blue Devil environment.

Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett Look to Keep Going

After having a monster, NPOY-worthy performance in Winston-Salem, Zion Williamson looks to continue his electrifying performance in Tallahassee. He recently said that he hates being “classified as just a dunker”, and if he keeps putting up games like that, I doubt he needs to worry. Today, though, he’ll see a frontcourt that he hasn’t seen in the past: as mentioned, the 7-4 Christ Koumadje and 6-10 Mfiondu Kabengele. However, after going 3-4 from three against Wake Forest, he’ll probably try to stretch out the big men with an improving shot.

RJ Barrett continues to average over 20 PPG, a major factor who, if possible, is sometimes overlooked as Zion shines! The great thing about this team, however, is that they don’t seem to care. Zion and RJ are great friends, regardless of how many times that they’re compared to each other.

Defenses Attempts to Slow Offenses

Florida State isn’t just tall and deep– they’re forcing turnovers on 25% of their opponents’ possessions. Duke will need to be careful when handling the ball, especially on those pitches down the court that sometimes don’t go as well as might have been hoped. Duke, on the other hand, is one of the top five efficient offenses and defenses in the country. The Blue Devils lead the country in blocks per game at 8.6, with a recent showing of 13 against Wake. FSU has only been stolen from on 7.6% of their possessions, including having played Virginia! It’ll surely be a tougher task on defense for us against a team very good at handling the ball.

Game Notes

Duke Blue Devils @ Florida State Seminoles

Date: Saturday, January 12

Time: 2:00pm

Venue: Donald L. Tucker Civic Center, Tallahassee, FL

TV: ESPN (Sonic Blockbuster)

Bleed blue.

Duke Gets It Done on the Road, Defeats Wake Forest

Zion Williamson (30) and RJ “Maple Mamba” Barrett (21) combined for 51 points as Duke rolled past Wake Forest on the road. Yet another game where about 80% of the first half was close then it was off the the races and Duke never looked back.

Zion Williamson was the outright star of this game. He posted numbers that no player in the Coach K era has ever accomplished: 30 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists. He’s the first player in over 20 years, according to ESPN, to post a 30-10-5-4 with 80% field shooting. He went 3-4 from three-point range despite only having 4 total on the year, an area in which he’s been improving steadily. Mount Zion is here.

This is a highlight that I can’t not highlight. The Maple Mamba went Harden on this poor defender:

It was also a block party for Duke. Jack White hosted with 5, plus attendants Javen DeLaurier (3), Cam Reddish (2), Zion Williamson (1), and Marques Bolden (2). It set multiple records at 13:

Bleed blue. Wake Forest was just a preview for what’s to come: Tallahassee. Saturday.

Sorry for the wait for this one.

Duke Takes On Clemson to Start ACC Gauntlet

I am not kidding: this year’s ACC is a gauntlet, even for #1 Duke. Saturday night is the start of ACC play for the Blue Devils as they take on the Clemson Tigers at home. Though Duke is heavily favored, they are going to need to be ready as Clemson is battle-tested while Duke has not played since December 20, over two weeks. While it’s an advantage in how rested the will be (Clemson played Lipscomb 5 days ago), they haven’t played in a while and as hot as they were a couple weeks ago, they have a smaller range of experience.

Duke will definitely need to put a good defender on senior shooting guard Marcquise Reed. The shooting guard had an opportunity to depart for the NBA last year, however opted to stay for a final season. Reed missed a few games in December but has averaged 23 points in the two games since (20 and 26, respectively). He essentially is the Tigers’ offense and a name to watch.

Clemson also has a bit of a grudge in this game, though it would be worse were it a home game for the Tigers. Last year, after dismantling Auburn in the NCAA Tournament, Clemson was so sure they were going to sign Zion Williamson and enter a whole new world of college basketball glory. Well, we all know how that went (for Clemson, anyway). Zion was a hometown (well, state) kid and they were so, so sure. Clemson is probably feeling pretty resentful.

Speaking of Zion, the Tigers have to ever-pleasant job of trying to get some sort of monitor or control over him. Yeah, good luck with that. Zion’s a beast; he can do it all. His jump shot is improving and he controls the paint no matter how tall the guy that you put in front of him is. He is as light on his feet as a guard half his size yet he’s bigger than literally every NBA player other than one. His game keeps improving and something more that I love about him is that he’s one of the first guys on this team that will dive the floor for a loose ball.

Two guys that really stood out in our last game will look to match the intensity in Cameron Saturday night. Jack White and Tre Jones brought the fire in MSG against TTU, something that is essential as our young team grows up with out a starting senior. Tre Jones has played well beyond his years. Could it be a family trait? (*cough* Tyus *cough*)

Clemson, like most opponents that Duke has played and will play, has never seen any team like Duke before. The Tigers have lost three games to Creighton, #25 Nebraska, and #17 Mississippi State.

Here are the game notes.

Duke (11-1) vs. Clemson (10-3)

Date: Saturday, January 5, 2019

Time: 8:00pm

Venue: Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham, NC 

Bleed blue. Krazies, pack Cameron tomorrow.

Hey, Durham Residents! Autograph Day for MBB

Alert all the Bull City Duke fans, because Duke Men’s Basketball is hosting a FREE autograph signing day at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Saturday, December 29th! This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet an awesome team of Blue Devils as well as, in at least three of them, possibly the future of basketball in the US and Canada. Doors open at 1pm. One item/person. Bleed blue.

A Hamilton Fan Rejoices

I don’t know if you know this, but I am a girl of many fandoms. Duke, obviously. Basketball in general. Then you go into my more pop culture-related areas: Harry Potter is one of those. Finally…

Hamilton!

I love a lot of musicals, but none more than the story of the nation’s first treasury secretary (I tell you, Lin-Manuel Miranda is a genius). 

Bull City residents probably know that Hamilton recently came to the Durham Performing Arts Center or DPAC. I didn’t get to see it at DPAC but did see it last year in Chicago after over a year of singing loudly to its soundtrack. I love Hamilton.

I freaked when I saw this:

It’s the BLUE DEVIL. ON A HAMILTON STAR.

THIS IS THE MOST AMAZING THING.

Bleed blue. Fangirl moment over, I promise 😉