#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 Basketball Returns with Champions’ Classic

The wait is over: college basketball returns tonight, and what way to start it other than a face-off between the premier programs of the NCAA? The Champions’ Classic pits Duke and Kansas against one another this year, both teams sitting atop the polls at #4 and #2, respectively. A young team will begin on a big stage, and it’s time to see how they’ll handle it.

Duke previewed the season with Countdown to Craziness then two exhibition games: Northwest Missouri State and Fort Valley State. NWMSU gave Duke a run for their money, and though they were reigning Division II Champions that doesn’t excuse a near-disaster for the Blue Devils. Duke scratched out a 6-point victory at 69-63. The emotion from the first game, however, seemed to be taken out in the second, unfortunately for FVS. Duke brought down the hammer on them, 126-57.

Duke is facing an experienced Kansas team, something we lack. A major focus will be rebounding, as the Jayhawks bring back a strong frontcourt including very productive big man Udoka Azubuike. Azubuike will provide a sufficient challenge on both ends of the court for Vernon Carey, Jr, the most renowned of Duke’s incoming freshman class and assumably starting center.

You can catch the start of the season tonight on ESPN at 7:00 ET. You won’t want to miss this.

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.

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.