#4 Duke Takes Down #3 Kansas in Champions’ Classic

Duke opened the season tonight with a bang in the Champions’ Classic as the Blue Devils took out the third-ranked Kansas Jayhawks, 68-66. Though by no means an offensive battle, sophomore captain Tre Jones led Duke, on every end of the court and every aspect of the game, with 15 points alongside 6 assists and 6 rebounds. It was a team effort, however, that won the game: both offenses struggled immensely, but the team defense was triumphant. It was a physical, rough game with ups and downs, and a young team responded on the big stage.

The biggest statistic for the game? 28 turnovers. 28! All on Kansas. Yes, that’s a sloppy game by the Jayhawks (almost the sloppiest ever) but it is undeniable that Duke’s defense played an enormous role in that stat. And while some may say that the margin of victory should have been much larger, the faintest idea that that is even possible is mind-boggling. With improvement and experience gained over the course of the year and that already established, this team is going to be very, very good. The game plan was executed exceptionally, with double teams containing the Jayhawk frontcourt and ballhandlers struggling to get by. Cassius Stanley’s athleticism was on full display, Jack White had numerous huge steals, one to seal the game, and Vernon Carey battled with the biggest of foes down low. It was an exemplary game in terms of strong and composed defensive play.

It’s not difficult to determine that the offensive efficiency for the Blue Devils was unimpressive. Duke managed to scratch out enough points to beat a top 4-ranked team, so I’m not too concerned. Shot selection was not always superb and neither was execution, at 36.5% on field goals. Considering the physicality of the game, though, the Duke offense wasn’t terrible, with some big shots coming from an array of players, eight in total scoring. Matthew Hurt had a huge three-pointer, and Cassius Stanley was magnificent, especially by the end of the game. In a rough offensive game for both sides, our Blue Devils didn’t back down.

One surprise was that Joey Baker, after showing out against Fort Valley State in exhibition, did not take the floor. Perhaps there’s an injury we’re not hearing about, but we’ll expect him to have an impact this season.

Bleed blue. Duke eases up with Colorado State on Friday for the home opener back in the Bull City.

Duke Survives Wake Forest in a Heart-Stopper, 71-70

What a game. What a crazy game. Duke came into the first half with little energy; Coach K described the guys as “giddy” afterwards but simply were outplayed by the Demon Deacons. However, with some crazy events and a bit of good fortune, Duke held on for a 71-70 win on Senior Night. Hats off to Wake Forest for by far the best game they’ve played in a really rough season. The defense wasn’t awful or something; Wake made some very difficult shots and we didn’t have our night but both teams just played their tails off. RJ Barrett was magnificent again and had 28 points.

As previously said, we were hit with a gut punch early on. The first half was played with very little energy; excluding RJ Barrett our team was 6-for-17 from the field. Jack White had two awesome three-pointers (he’d made 5 straight following the 28-streak before missing one) and RJ was getting double teamed and fouled hard (still had 15 points at intermission, though) and that was just about it, save a few plays, for the offense. Wake Forest, on the other hand, played very well and forced us to turn over the ball nine times in the first period of play. Cam Reddish was very limited during the game as 3 offensive charges took him out in the first period after just 8 minutes and a foul with about 9 minutes remaining kept him on the bench for much of the competition. He did contribute 6 points on a night it which he also struggled to put the ball in the basket.

Coming out of halftime, it wasn’t (at first) a patented Duke run but instead a Wake Forest one. Duke went up three on a Tre Jones layup, but Wake Forest immediately went on a 13-0 run. Duke was forced to take a timeout. Finally, that patented run was back and we scored 10 straight. Finally, some life in the building.

It was back-and-forth from there. The end of the game was a heartstopper but so was the injury to Tre Jones, who left for the locker room in the second half for a few very stressful minutes with a knee issue; he would, however return. Marques Bolden did not play for much of the second half because of a hip injury.

I don’t think that I breathed through the last few minutes. Tied 62-62, Alex O’Connell hit a three, a turnover was forced, Tre hit two free throws, and RJ and Brandon Childress traded buckets to give us the 5-point advantage with 1:24 to play. RJ missed the front end of a 1-and-1 and Wake immediately responded with four free throws (all by Chaundee Brown). At 69-68 Duke, RJ made a shot that you just cannot teach from the paint to give us the three-point advantage.

This is where your heart rate goes up if you’re a Duke fan. Brandon Childress makes the layup to make a one-point game with seven seconds on the clock, and then something “inexcusable”, as Coach K put it, happened: Jack White, in attempting to change the inbounder, stepped over the line and turned the ball over right there, underneath the basket. Wake Forest had a shot to win it, and… well, I’ll just let you watch.

Oh. My. Goodness. That was too close.

It should be brought into consideration the number of injuries that we faced throughout the competition. Tre Jones took the energy in the building with him en route to a brief locker room visit in the middle of the second half, of which he would miss relatively significant minutes. Marques Bolden was unavailable (yet another post presence gone) for much of the game with a hip injury. Zion Williamson was yet again unavailable.

But it shouldn’t have been that close. Hopefully, a few days’ rest will get the Blue Devils ready for the upcoming rivalry rematch at UNC on Saturday.

Speaking of UNC and Zion Williamson, it’s been 5 (4.9999) games since we last saw Zion Williamson. UNC is yet to face him. Coach K said in his press conference that he “doesn’t think” Zion will be ready for UNC but later backtracked and said the decision will be made around Friday. Zion began “basketball activities” on Wednesday, but is yet to participate in full contact practice.

Bleed blue. The greatest rivals in basketball will meet again on Saturday. That’s must see. Look for my preview in the upcoming days.

Duke vs. Wake Forest Game Notes and a Zion Update

Before we get to anything else, today is absolutely in celebration of two guys:

Our seniors, Brennan Besser and Antonio Vrankovic. This is their final game in Cameron for two guys who don’t play as much but are as valuable or more than players with all the talent in the world. They’ve both given so much to our program and we’re so incredibly happy for them as they give a final farewell to the Crazies and, in May, to the University. Thank you, seniors.

Now, for the Zion update. It’s good news! Coach Krzyzewski said this in the ACC Coaches’ Teleconference:

There’s been no decision, he’s still day-to-day Zion Williamson is in phase 4 of the 4-phase program and it’s just a matter of how long he stays in it and we feel comfortable

Coach Mike Krzyzewski

Coach K is obviously not at all going to rush it but there’s no decision on whether Zion will play tonight. If he were to play– which means he’s 100%– I’m sure he’d not play the whole time but even if he doesn’t, he’d really ought to suit up. That article by Matt Giles is great, by the way.

Now, we want to get him back for the seeding implications. We’re supposedly in danger of losing that top seed– don’t ask me why, as we have owned Virginia all season, but I suppose that’s where we’re at right now. However, with a fully healthy squad, we all know who’s #1 overall (the team that hasn’t lost since November when fully healthy).

On to Wake Forest. They’re– well– they’re just bad again. The numbers don’t lie: they do have two good players in Brandon Childress (yeah, he’s still there) and Jaylen Hoard, as well as another double-digit scorer in Chaundee Brown but they’re not yet averaging just 70 PPG and allowing 75. Duke on the other hand averages 85 PPG. The Deacs are 11-17, though four ACC wins are better than last.

When these two teams met in Winston-Salem, Zion Williamson had a 30-point stat sheet stuffer, but with his status uncertain we’ll certainly rely on other guys to pick up the pieces. Alex O’Connell has played his best all season during Zion’s absence, which we hope will continue. Additionally, Marques Bolden has been just magnificent of late.

Game Notes

Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Duke Blue Devils

Date: Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Time: 7:00pm

TV: ESPN

Radio: Blue Devil IMG Sports Network; ESPN Radio

Bleed blue. “Teach them how to say goodbye, to say goodbye…”

Coach K Near Heights Unseen by Anyone

Not one college basketball coach has won 1,123 games: not men’s, not women’s, not D-I, not D-II, and not even D-III. The record, as of now being 1,122, isn’t actually held by Coach K yet: Harry Statham, who retired last year from Division II’s McKendree University, just finished off a run of half a century. Coach K win “Kount” stands at 1,121– one behind Statham. Now, with a win tonight and a win at home vs. NC State would make Coach Mike Krzyzewski the winningest college coach of all time.

Not much more you can say there except “Wow”.

Bleed blue. Catch the Duke-Louisville game at 9pm tonight.

Good News for Tre Jones!

Duke fans have held their breath for the past week as Tre Jones continued to recover from an AC joint separation suffered early in a loss against Syracuse, but it’s time to exhale: Jones is doing exceptionally well and will be back much earlier than we feared. Coach Mike Krzyzewski described it as “not long-term”. AC joint separations are very dependent on the severity of the injury, and while Jones sustained a very painful injury it doesn’t appear to be horribly severe.

Agreed, Barstool Blue Devils. Agreed.

His shoulder has “responded well to treatment”, according to ESPN’s Andrea Adelson, though he is unlikely to play against Virginia on Saturday he is day-to-day and not yet ruled out less than 24 hours before the game. Cam Reddish, who did not play due to illness last Saturday, is expected to be available.

Bleed blue. All I ask is for you to continue to #PrayForTre! It’s working!

Duke Beats Yale, 91-58

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RJ Barrett, 30 points, and Zion Williamson, 20 points, led Duke to a 91-58 rout of Yale.

Duke rode its hot second half to rout Yale, 91-58, as Yale just couldn’t handle Duke’s defense and coughed up the ball too much. It was close for a good long while, as both offenses couldn’t seem to click, but Duke got rolling in the second and it was over. RJ Barrett finished with 30, while he and Zion combined for 50 points. Yale turned the ball over 23 times, making 24 points for Duke on the other end. Yale played hard the whole time, though; they’re a tough team and deserve credit. 

The defense suffocated a Yale offense that is generally pretty good, which is a good sign for a team that is very young. The offense was forced to start further and further back in the backcourt, opening up opportunities for Duke’s backcourt to deny passes and rack up deflections, as Cam Reddish and Tre Jones combined for seven steals on the night. Every starter had one or more steals. Jack White also had an excellent defensive game, with 3 steals and 2 blocks. White helped to hold the Elis’ best player, Miye Oni, to twelve points (down from a season average of 18). The offense struggled in the first half but as mentioned before, it was over the minute that we got it together on that end of the court.

Duke will now take a break for final exams (and some snow!), taking on another Ivy League foe in Princeton in a little less than two weeks. Guess who also has exams? Me! I’ll be studying so Krazies’ Korner may be a little bit behind in case of some big news. Thank you for your understanding. Bleed blue.

COMMITTED: Vernon Carey Picks Duke

Not much that I can say here other than a great player has picked a great university to play for. Quick profile: at 6’10”, 260, he’s a beast at center and I can’t wait to see him in our Blue and White. Welcome, Vernon Carey, to the Brotherhood. Bleed blue.