It was truly the tale of two halves for Duke against Division 2 champs Drury. Duke was sloppy on offense, defensively out of sync and to be honest a little lazy. As sloppy as Duke did look it was aided by stellar play by Drury. The Panthers were opportunistic, and methodical in their approach, and made Duke pay with every missed defensive assignment, missed rebound and missed loose ball. Drury worked the Devils and ended the half on a run that gave them a 4 point lead 38-34.
Not a whole lot went Dukes way only shooting 1 of 7 from 3 point range and only 7 of 13 from the foul line. Despite an advantage in height and athleticism Duke could only tie Drury in rebounding and had no advantage in turnovers either.
When Duke took the court in the second half there was much more of a hop in their step Coach K, who was not animated on the sidelines, must have kept mental notes of every misstep and challenged his team in his halftime speech. Most notably exorcising his first half funk was Rodney Hood, he came out visibly angry and purposeful in the second half. Hood would end the game with 21 points, 4 assists and 9 rebounds. Clearly leading the Blue Devils if not vocally then by example and it caused a ripple effect as Duke started to right the ship toward the midway point in the second half.
Matt Jones scoredÂ points and showed for the second week in a row that he is not a freshman that has any intention of standing in the shadows. He is making his presence felt on both ends of the floor. The case can be made that Jones along with Thornton are Duke’s best defensive players so far. On the offensive end Jones is not a guard that has any fear of taking it to the hole and finishing through contact. Jones scored 9 points including a timely 3 pointer in the second half to go along with his 3 steals. Quinn Cook did not have a very memorable first half but as Hood would inspire Jones, he would also inspire Cook who caught his groove in the second half scoring 13 points and going 2-5 from beyond the arc. Cook would finish with 2 assists and 2 turnovers but also added 3 steals in the game. Cook and Duke as a whole will need to work on situations with a small shot clock as several times they ended with Cook having to take desperation jumpers to try and avoid the turnover.
The real anchor of the team in this game was Amile Jefferson who pulled down 16 rebounds, scored 13 points but also had 4 assists and no turnovers. He was Dukes most efficient player on both ends of the court and is carving out and filling the role that Duke hoped he would coming into this year.
Duke did not play Rasheed Sulaimon in this game curiously but in the post-game presser Coach K answered when asked why no Sheed, “Yeah Rasheedâ€™s been not top health, yet. And hopefully this week he will get himself in shape.â€
Jabari Parker: Parker scored 13 points as quietly as one can score 13. I tweeted that I would like to see a little more killer instinct from the freshman, where skills meat passion is where his best game will be.
Rodney Hood: Hood took some time to get going but once he did he was the best player on the floor his versatility is key for him, he can play anywhere on the floor. If he hits his foul shots its hard to see him not being near the league lead in scoring.
Quinn Cook: Cook took a while to get his groove but in the second half he turned it on, if he starts games out the way he finished Duke could be VERY dangerous.
Matt Jones: Jones is a man on the court, he is no shy freshman. He is going to push the other 2 guards and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get some time at the point. I also wouldn’t be surprised if he earns himself a starting position at some point this year. I think he is better than I thought he was coming in.
Alex Murphy: I wanted to see more of Murphy but what I saw brought me back the the days of Dunleavy with a nice scooping layup and if he can find a rhythm and flow he will get off, it’s going to happen this year.
Andre Dawkins: Dre played 6 minutes and missed two shots. I think he is just going to need reps, the coaches are going to tell him to keep shooting and I couldn’t agree more.
Marshall Plumlee: Plumlee didn’t play much and missed 2 free throws when he did enter the game. Marshall still needs to play with a big man mindset, for a guy that is a hulk of a human being he is far too often bothered by smaller players when going to the rim, and too easily pushed off the block. He needs to learn to use his weight and muscle as a weapon in the paint.
Semi Ojeleye: Semi is clearly a work on progress but had one exciting moment with a high flying dunk off of a missed shot. If he puts it together on defense and his instincts catch up to his athleticism he will earn more minutes.
Josh Hairston: Josh may have be one of the players that helps out Jabari Parker the most this year. Hairston often spelled Jabari in this game and when a player of Parkers talent is sitting down and a player with lesser talent is taking his place then clearly its about passion and fundamentals. Jabari needs to match the passion that Hairston puts into each minute on the floor. Hairston is an opportunist and uses his time wisely, from cleaning up misses and putting them back to baiting offensive players into charges. Jarbari should watch each segment that Hairston is on the floor.
Tyler Thornton: Tyler is what he is and Duke is lucky to have him. The spiritual leader, Tyler is tough and played tough in this game but also hit a timely 3 in the second half that Duke needed during its run toward victory. The numbers will not wow you but Thornton’s role is clear and he is doing what Duke needs from him.
Amile Jefferson: Jefferson is like one of the guys that approaches your car and cleans the windows when you are at a stoplight. He gets the job done efficiently and effectively. Cleans the glass and gets you points in the paint. He is effort personified. His 16 boards were huge in this game 12 of which came in the second half. He is completely necessary for Dukes success and I’m not sure they win this game without his efforts.