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.

Lead Us, Captains.

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Source: YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p0R8V4N5Knk

Since November, when Duke shocked Kentucky at a score of 118-84, all the talk has been centered around two players whose play is difficult to believe. RJ Barrett can score from just about anywhere. Zion Williamson is a 285-pound monster who dances around the rim like a ballerina. Both are humble and unselfish; they’ll dive to the floor for loose balls and they’ll make the extra pass to an open teammate for a shot. 

But the difference for this team? These two aren’t a team by themselves. RJ Barrett and Zion Williamson will, if all goes well, lift Duke to new heights this season, alongside Cam Reddish, the overlooked star. On the other hand, who will keep us grounded? Who will lead the way, not statistically, but emotionally? Think Quinn Cook in 2015. Those freshmen, Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow, and Tyus Jones, didn’t win a championship by themselves.

So many people have said this: Duke is young. Which is true. Heck, we start four freshmen and a junior. But the veterans are very underrated. Jack White and Javin DeLaurier, co-captains, have been the facilitators for Duke.

They’re two of the best teammates you’ll find in the NCAA. They’re good friends; brought together by Duke Basketball despite growing up 16,069 miles apart. Now, they’re faced with one task: getting this young team through the season and to the ultimate goal: a national championship.

Bleed blue. We’ll be back soon to preview Duke’s first game after exams against Princeton.

Duke Takes On Yale Before Exams

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Zion Williamson runs in Duke’s 113-49 win over Stetson. Source: Duke Basketball Report https://www.dukebasketballreport.com/2018/12/5/18126894/a-yale-look-at-yales-odds-vs-duke-zion-reddish-barrett-jones-coach-k

Duke will get one last test before taking a week-long break (okay, well, one last basketball test) for exams as Yale visits in the “Brain Bowl”: these two universities are some of the premiers of the country. It’s also a rematch of the 2016 Round of 32 matchup. Duke won, 71-64, but the Bulldogs didn’t make it easy and will not this time around, either. Yale is actually very good this year and Duke can’t sleep on them. The old Ivy League that just couldn’t keep up is dead and gone.

Yale has already taken on and defeated an ACC foe in Miami– away from home, at that– a week ago. They lost to Vermont and Memphis but kept it pretty tight in both games. Hartford certainly gave us a headache with grit, experience, and three-point shooting. Yale is no different. In fact, they’re ranked 18th in the country in three-point percentage. With a stout interior defense, it’ll be the outside that Duke will need to focus on to keep the Bulldogs from staying in it. 

Duke, on the other hand, comes in 8-1, ranked third in the country, with easily the most talent in the country between the high-flying freshmen: RJ Barrett, Zion Williamson, and Cam Reddish, as well as a good veteran corps in junior captains Javin DeLaurier and Jack White, both of whom are having the best seasons of their respective careers thus far

Game notes:

Duke vs. Yale

Date: Saturday, December 8th

Time: 5:30pm ET

Venue: Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham, NC

TV: ESPN

Bleed blue.

Duke Rolls Against SDSU, 90-64

Duke kept rolling tonight against San Diego State today for their first win in the Maui Jim Maui Invitational to advance. RJ Barrett continued his streak of scoring 20+ points and led the Blue Devils with 20, but we executed a more balanced attack today than the past few games. Zion racked up an incredible five steals, showing his effort on the defensive end with a “quiet” (not really) evening of 13 points and 6 rebounds. Jack White had a career-high 12 points while Marques Bolden poured in 4 plus 4 rebounds. 

Cam Reddish returned from an injury that kept him out of most of last week’s contest against Eastern Michigan for a strong 16 points and 2 assists. Cam had some NBA-caliber stepbacks and highlight reel shots that got the attention on one of the most underappreciated projected lottery picks and top-3 recruits that I’ve ever seen (mostly because of his elite teammates). 

After a generally tumultuous week in college basketball, Duke further solidified its No. 1 status in the AP Poll. Duke leapfrogged Kansas and Gonzaga after starting the season off with a very, very, very big bang in the win over then-#2 Kentucky

Bleed blue. Duke will return for a high-profile battle with No. 8 Auburn in the semifinals for the Invitational. 

Duke Rides Shutdown First Half to 84-46 Win over Eastern Michigan

A brilliant first half. A hard-playing team that made just about every Duke fan proud. Oh, and, by the way, Zion put on a dunk show. Yeah, this was a pretty fun game. Duke smacked Eastern Michigan 84-46 as Zion Williamson led the way with 21 points and 9 rebounds. RJ Barrett came a close second with 20. Javin DeLaurier had one of his best games in a while, scoring 10 points alongside his 6 rebounds, 2 steals, and block. In addition, a usually foul-prone Javin only had one foul in this entire game, which came in the second half. Jack White also performed well, matching his co-captain with 10 points.

Yeah, I lied a little bit when I said Zion put on a dunk show. They all put on an in-the-paint clinic. Dunking, layups, tip-ins: S/o to Zion, Javin, and Jack for controlling the paint! Duke scored most of their points down low. I did not lie, though, when I said Zion dunked. He’s so much more than a dunker, don’t get me wrong, but it’s EPIC when he does. However, he has non-dunk highlights, too: I sometimes wonder if this guy took dance lessons or something. He’s 285 pounds of muscle, yet he has the feet of a ballerina. How it’s humanly possible I don’t know, but you can see it below:

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find tape of an amazing lay-in from the second half, but Duke Basketball Report has highlight reels of RJ and Zion, so check those out!

Cam Reddish was limited in playing time because of a sore groin, but Coach K said he’s fine and it was just a precaution. He would’ve played had it been closer. Freshman Joey Baker was the only guy on the team not suited up, which basically solidifies the notion that he will redshirt this year.

Bleed blue. Duke prepares for San Diego State in Maui this Monday. That’ll be 5pm ET. Go Duke!

Duke Pulls Away, Defeats Army 94-72

It was a freshmen showcase again for the Blue Devils as Duke’s impressive youngsters combined for 75 of Duke’s 94 points. Army fought valiantly and stubbornly, giving Duke more of a struggle than Kentucky did last week, so kudos to them for that. Zion Williamson continued to provide material for a SportsCenter Top 10 show of his own and putting up video game numbers, while Cam Reddish flexed his shooting ability with 7 3s. Keep sleeping on him, I dare you.

Don’t forget RJ! RJ put up 23 points to go with his 6 rebounds and 2 assists.

It was a quiet day on the stat sheet for Duke’s older guys, but Jack White posted 6 points and 4 rebounds. There were a few mistakes along the way but again, it’s the second game with a team whose stars are entirely comprised of freshmen, so it’s really nothing to look into.

Joey Baker did not play again, which definitely continues to support the notion that he will redshirt this year. Redshirting is probably a good choice for him as he can get practice in against stars like the guys on this team and still save a year. If you remember, he reclassified a year and should be a senior in high school right now, so having that experience under your belt despite being about the age of the incoming class would give him an advantage, were he to elect to do so.

Bleed blue. Next up, Duke will face Eastern Michigan for one last home appearance before heading off to Maui for the Maui Invitational.

Duke Puts World on Notice, Routs #2 Kentucky, 118-84

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Zion Williamson all smiles after scoring 28 in Duke’s 118-84 rout of Kentucky. Source: SBNation https://www.sbnation.com/college-basketball/2018/11/7/18070886/duke-vs-kentucky-recap-final-score-zion-williamson-rj-barrett

I must say, I had faith in our squad, sure,  but not this much faith! In an unprecedentedly smashing win, Duke embarrassed number-two ranked Kentucky by thirty-four, 118-84. Other than after a few minutes at 11-8, after which a 9-0 run made it 20-8 you kept thinking “it’s got to get close at some point”. It didn’t. People are at loss for words. RJ Barrett scored 33. Zion Williamson scored 28. This is a very clear testament: Duke can score on anybody. Kentucky’s defense has been bad in the past at the beginning of the year, but not just anybody is going to be able to put up 118 on a top-2 team.

Strengths: Um, All of Them?

I have to say, Duke just about dominated every aspect of this game. There were some foul issues early: Javin DeLaurier, Marques Bolden, and occasionally Zion Williamson were called for fouls but in this game, honestly, sometimes it felt like standing in the lane was a foul. I can’t complain, though. But the strengths abounded: Duke made Kentucky a half-court team, plain and simple. They dominated transition: we scored at will in transition situations. Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett, and Cam Reddish got to demonstrate their games in so many ways. All of them got in the paint, all of them took perimeter shots, all of them got jumpers. Those three are extremely versatile players. And shoutout, Jack White! Jack is willing to do the dirty work behind the scenes that make this team look great. He had an excellent game with 11 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals. He doesn’t score in the 20s and 30s as consistently as some of his teammates might, but he gets it done.

This Won’t Happen Every Time

I want to note that this will (probably) not happen every game. There will be the UVAs of the world, with their stifling defense. A freshman will have a bad game. But this team is really, really good, and they told the world Tuesday night. Did I mention this? Oh. My. Goodness. This is gonna be one fun season.

#TheBrotherhood Reacts

Duke showed an excellent sense of what #TheBrotherhood means last night. Let’s see how the rest of them reacted.