Hard to put into words what the Duke guards bring to the table game after game but when Quinn Cook said “best backcourt in America” nobody batted an eye. Once again Quinn Cook and Tyus Jones proved it once again by pulling the rug out from under a Tar Heel team that thought they had done enough to secure a win.
Duke began the game strong, getting out in transition and putting heels literally on their heels. Duke was off to the races not allowing UNC to set up their defense and scoring off of run-outs after 9 UNC turnovers. Duke would get out to a 10 point lead only to see UNC switch to a zone and stiffen up defensively. Duke went cold from the field and the 10 point lead would end up a 2 point deficit at halftime. Duke was paced in the first half by senior guard Quinn Cook who scored 13 in the first half on his way to 20 for the game.
Once again Duke took the game in come-from-behind fashion. The Tar Heels would pull ahead by 7 but were never quite able to put away the Blue Devils. Duke hung around and managed to put together just enough of a spurt to pull away from the Tar Heels late in the second half. Duke would be handicapped by foul trouble for Justise Winslow and a back injury suffered by freshman Tyus Jones. Duke would reclaim the lead from the Heels with Jones, Winslow and Okafor on the bench. Duke got big shots from sophomore guard Matt Jones and freshman Grayson Allen during their run, and when the freshmen trio returned to the game Tyus Jones would take control – the freshman gave up his body as he drove to the basket for lay-ups and when he was unable to finish Jones was able to draw contact and the foul call. Jones would be the games high scorer with 24 points. Jones would also finish with 7 assists to only 1 turnover, 6 rebounds and added 3 steals. In an impressive stat Tyus Jones was a perfect 12 for 12 from the free throw line.
After a lackluster performance against Wake Forest Jahlil Okafor began the game against UNC in the same manner scoring just 4 points in the first half. UNC employed a double team against the freshman center as most teams do but Okafor aided UNC by being a step slow in making his moves toward the basket. Even with his offensive numbers suffering, Okafor did play much better on the defensive end, challenging shots and holding talented big man Kennedy Meeks to only 2 points on 1 of 7 shooting for the game. Okafor would come alive during the Duke run scoring 10 points in the second half.
Marcus Paige redeemed himself from his awful performance in Cameron Indoor Stadium with a 23 point outburst. Duke did not defend Paige as effectively in this game and the crafty guard used screens and a scrambled Duke transition defense to get himself open looks. Paige shot 60% from the field in the game and 5 of 9 from beyond the arc.
With the 84-77 victory Duke sweeps the season series with the Tar Heels.
The Good: Another come from behind win, after a listless last 10 minutes of the first half Duke seemed to click mid-way into the second half.
#guardheart, Duke is where they are because of the stellar play of Tyus Jones and Quinn Cook, no doubt about it. They take over games, hit big shots, defend well and step up when this team needs them the most.
rebounding which was a decided advantage for the taller Tar Heels ended up being a non-factor as Duke broke even 32 to 32.
Points off turnovers-DU 21,NC 11
The Bad: Duke had a long stretch of offensive ineptitude where they went 5 for 25 and 9 minutes without a basket.
The Meh: Despite getting 7 points from freshman reserve Grayson Allen Duke only managed 10 bench points, that number needs to be higher. Duke needs contributions from junior forward Amile Jefferson who scored only 3 points but did manage to pull down 6 huge rebounds for the Devils.
“I think it was a similar game as the one in Durham where either team is deserving of winning. Like one play or one little spurt and both teams played unbelievably hard and we’re obviously really pleased because we won ahard fought game against an outstanding team that was obviously ready to play. They were ready to play. I thought our bench was terrific. When we took the lead finally, Matt [Jones] with a three, Grayson [Allen] with a three, and we had a line-up out there with the only starter, I think, out of the four guys was Quinn [Cook]. You had Quinn [Cook], Marshall [Plumlee], Amile [Jefferson], Matt and Grayson. And to get that type of experience and production while in a game like this, that serves us well. Ourbackcourt was sensational, those two kids that played so well all year. And a big key to the game was Amile, starting in the second half and we started to do something a little bit differently in the full court. He’s the best guy to do that. And same thing with our offense, we couldn’t run our regular offense, so we went to some early stuff way out on the court with him. So even though he had three points, he was like the key guy in getting the offense and the defense started. Really a fantastic game by Amile. It doesn’t show up in stats, but it got us started on both ends of the court.”On Tyus Jones and his talent as a freshman:
“I’ve seen it from a freshman, like [Tommy]Amaker, [Bobby] Hurley. Okay, that’s it. That’s where he is.Tyus is outstanding. But I saw it in him at USA Basketball and I saw it in him as a sophomore in high school. He’s a big-time player. And our free throw shooting, for Grayson to hitfour free throws, he wouldn’t give up the ball. A lot of tough, good things. What happened withTyus, he fell to the floor and he hit his back and he had back spasms. I talked to him after the game, and he said in his junior year in high school he got that. And so, it didn’t come back the rest of the game, so when we get back we’ll look at what treatments he gets. I’m hoping it’s just that initial blow that did that.”On the good group of players:
“Sometimes things just happen. It’s not coaching. They make it happen. Like Matt, he only has one bucket in the game, we’re down 51-50 and knocks that thing down. I love that, that he knows we have enough confidence in him and he has enough confidence in him to take it. One of the cool things with this group—I have a special group of guys. I’m not saying we’re a great team, but we have a special group of guys. Those three- Justise [Winslow], Jah [Jahlil Okafor] and Tyus are on the bench, and they’re cheering like crazy for those guys. We have such a together group. It’s on them. They really pull for each other and then Grayson had not hit, and he hits the bucket right after that. Those six points really turned the game around and it came from Matt and Grayson and they hadn’t hit anything. It’s fantastic. Just fantastic.”
North Carolina Head Coach Roy Williams
“I’m tired of saying this but congratulate Duke. They did some really good things. Tyus [Jones], 12 for 12 from the foul line and 7 assists, and one turnover. Jahlil [Okafor] made some big hoops for them down the stretch. Quinn [Cook] made a couple big baskets driving there. Really a good basketball team. We had a tough stretch in there. We had three straight turnovers. I think Steve [Kirschner] said it was 72-69 at that point. Marcus [Paige] turned it over, we got it back, Justin [Jackson] turned it over, Tyus [Jones] pulled up behind the screen and made a three. We come down and J.P. [Tokoto] turned it over and they go back and make another three, and all of a sudden it’s a nine-point game. Turnovers, needless to say hurt us, and their offensive rebounding in the second half hurt us. 12 points on offensive rebounds for them for the game. They’re pretty good. We played pretty doggone well except for a four or five minute stretch there. I’ve got to do a better job there of getting them to focus. Can’t have those stretches there against a really good basketball team. And I hate it on senior day but I was spoiled rotten. Ten years as an assistant coach, we always won on senior day. First 24 years as a head coach, we won on every senior day, and now we’ve lost two of the last three. Whatever I was doing earlier, I need to get back to doing a better job.”
On post presence compared to the first meeting:
“Early on we were settling too much for jump shots. They shoot 26 free throws, we shoot 13, and last time they shot 31 and we shot 20. But today they were much more aggressive…They were more aggressive driving the ball to the basket. We were settling, I mean early in the game we are shooting fade-always and all kinds of things. [We] never did get a post presence established inside.”
On the team focus:
“I don’t know, I think that it’s typical what we have in college basketball all around, but we’ve had some teams that have pulled us, there’s no question about the focus and not having those lapses, but today it was huge. We were up five or six or something, and they make a three, and then we don’t get a very good shot, and now they make one and its back to a one or two point game. And they went ahead three and then we had three turnovers in a row. We have good kids, but they can’t feel like they’ve got to do it themselves. And that’s all Justin [Jackson] was doing. Trying to make a spin move and get inside, and he was able to do that, but its harder this year to the quality of the athlete that’s guarding, but we know what the problem is; maintaining the focus, and we have to do a better job of it.
On minimizing the runs:
“Get better shots. I didn’t like our shots. I mean, go in and throw up a soft little lay up and they block it, and then we come to take a quick jumper with two passes. Trying to keep fresh people out there and the whole bit, and it didn’t work.”