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.

Duke at Pitt Game Notes

Former Duke associate head coach Jeff Capel meets his former coach in Coach K tonight when Duke and Pitt meet. Capel has done an excellent job there, as having beaten Louisville marked Pitt’s first ACC win since early 2017.

Duke Blue Devils at Pittsburgh Panthers

Date: Tuesday, January 22

Time: 9:00pm

Watch: ESPN

No TV: ESPN App

Radio: Blue Devil IMG Sports Network

Line: Duke -12.5

Bleed blue.

Tennessee Jumps Duke for #1 in AP Poll

As both remaining undefeated teams went down (Virginia and Michigan) this weekend, as well as multiple upsets, the AP Poll’s top spots were a question mark leading into this week. Well, question answered: former #1 Duke fell one spot as the Tennessee Volunteers took over on top. The rest of the poll was pretty scrambled as well- #7 Kansas went down, Michigan lost to Wisconsin, Virginia fell to Duke, and Auburn couldn’t pull it out against Kentucky.

Anyone’s Game

The top spot was quite obviously the most contested spot, as multiple teams made their case this week:

Duke– A loss at home to Syracuse at the beginning of the week wasn’t flattering, though marred by just terrible odds. Outside shots haven’t fallen all week, especially against the Syracuse zone that forces those. Tre Jones’ injury and Cam Reddish’s illness were no help, either. It all came together, though, against Virginia: despite a lack of a point guard, the offense rolled very well and the defense was about as good as you get when missing your central piece in Tre Jones. UVA’s pack-line defense was no match for the unstoppable duo of Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett. Jones’ return is still not at all certain but most definitely more positive than most imagined when it happened, and no one is going to rush it. However, a win against a very, very good Virginia team showed that even without a key piece, these Blue Devils are arguably the most dangerous team in the country, not to mention with.

Tennessee– The Vols are on a roll in the SEC and are proving themselves one of the best teams in the field this year. Admiral Schofield and Grant Williams aren’t just the best players on the team: they’re the emotional leaders. There isn’t as much starpower in Knoxville as others may have, but this is a well put-together team that showed resilience against Alabama in a win that went down to the final buzzer.

Virginia– Virginia, despite having lost to Duke this week, is looking about as good as ever. And get this: their offense is actually good! Kyle Guy, in spite of his hair, is a dangerous offensive player. However, there’s no stability for the ‘Hoos until they get past that first round in the tournament: saying that they shouldn’t be defined by that loss means saying that regular season outweighs postseason, and there are fired coaches that can tell you so.

All three of these teams received votes for the top spot this week in the AP Poll.

Bleed blue.

Zion Williamson “Came to Play”

Zion Williamson will be one of the main speculations for NBA fans in the next year until he steps onto the court for the first time: essentially, they want on their teams what we have on our team. Previously this week on ESPN’s “The Jump”, Scottie Pippen suggested that Zion Williamson “shut it down” the rest of this year in order to preserve his health for the 2019 NBA Draft (we all know that he’s a lock for first pick at this point).

Zion didn’t like that much! When encountered about the prospect after Saturday’s win against Virginia, Williamson vehemently denied any idea of doing so:

I can’t just stop playing. I’d be letting my teammates down. I’d be letting Coach K down. I’d be letting a lot of people down.

If I was going to sit out, I wouldn’t have gone to college. I’m thankful that Coach K gave me the opportunity.

Zion Williamson

Well, that’s great news for us and not-so-great news for literally everybody else. Man, this team is special.

Bleed blue.

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 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.