There was definitely a sinking feeling near the end of the first half of the Duke – Miami game, a feeling of, “we’ve been here before”. Duke was down by 11 at the break with 1 assist and 5 turnovers. Duke once again went into the locker room with many more questions than answers. Could they rally? Could they put forth a defensive effort worthy of playing at Cameron? Would Grayson Allen even be available in the second half (dislocated his finger in the final action of the first half)?
It was clear that what ailed this Duke team was not a matter of x’s and o’s, it was a matter of going through the motions or putting your foot down and taking the bull by the horns. It was clear that Duke decided to write their own story of how this game would end rather than allow it to be written for them. Duke came out in the second half with a decidedly different look to its lineup with their main scorers (Grayson Allen and Luke Kennard) not on the floor. Jeff Capel went with the guys that were energy guys. Jayson Tatum, Amile Jefferson, Frank Jackson, Matt Jones and Marques Bolden got the nod. It took hustle and grit by the senior Matt Jones to get Duke the moment they needed, the point in the game where they began to believe. Jones began the half with a couple of steals and by hitting a couple of 3 pointers to get Duke the energy and swagger it needed. Jones would key a 22-1 run that put Duke ahead for good. Jones ended the game with 13 points on 5-7 shooting – Jones also added 3 steals that were timely and resulted in sorely needed points for Duke.
Duke struggled from the 3 point line and didn’t hit any at all in the first half but did turn it around in the second hitting 5-8. Duke found other ways to score they manufactured points off of Miami mistakes and a renewed effort on the boards that saw Duke out-rebound the Hurricanes in the second half by 4.
If Matt Jones was the spark and player of the game then Marques Bolden was most improved. Scoring 8 points and pulling down 4 rebounds in the game, Bolden was active and alert defensively and was probably the most ready for the Miami Pick and Roll offense of Dukes freshman bigs. Bolden was quick to the ball, hedged well and recovered quickly and earned his increase in minutes. Amile Jefferson returned from injury to start for the Devils and was able ti give Duke 12 rebounds and 5 points and helped anchor a defense that came alive in the second half.
One would hope that Duke as a team has learned something about themselves. Clearly the talent is there but the equation to being a top ten team starts with heart and hustle. Duke shouldn’t need to be awakened.
The entire second half saw Duke come alive.
31 points off of turnovers for the game, 25 in the second half
34 to 28 advantage in points in the paint
Duke shot 0-8 from 3 point range in the first half.
1 assist to 5 turnovers in the first half.