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.

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.

Recruiting: Isaiah Stewart Picks Washington

Unfortunately, Duke has lost yet another recruit for 2020 as Isaiah Stewart has selected the University of Washington. Congratulations to him and we hope for the best in his further endeavors. Duke currently stands with just three recruits, a rather small number in comparison to previous years but as many often overlook, Duke will almost definitely have Joey Baker (redshirt) and possibly even Tre Jones for next year. Vernon Carey, also, is a positionless force and we’re excited to see how he affects the Blue Devils for the incoming year.

As for the undecideds, #7 overall recruit (247Sports) and PF Matthew Hurt is undecided but Duke is a favorable option for him (though he hasn’t cut his list much at all). Duke has been cut from the list of Jaden McDaniels and is not looking likely for Precious Achiuwa.

Bleed blue. Happy Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day! Duke heads up to Pittsburgh as Coach K meets former Associate Head Coach Jeff Capel on Tuesday at 9pm.

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 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.