Duke entered this game against Utah State with a suspect defense, a porous defense – something that Coach K isn’t likely to tolerate. When you are beaten by better players all you can do is shrug and move on, but when your defensive intensity is nowhere to be found, well that is another story and completely unacceptable from a Coach K team. Duke would change that up in a 85-52 beat down of Utah State.
Duke held the Aggies to 33.3% shooting in this game and unlike some games where teams just shoot horribly, Duke actually defended at a high level for the entirety of the game. Duke began the game using the strength of its front-court players, in fact 9 of Dukes first 11 points were scored by Amile Jefferson and Marshall Plumlee. Both Plumlee and Amile ended the game on the cusp of double-doubles. Jefferson scored 13 points and pulled down 9 rebounds and Plumlee scored 9 on 3-3 shooting and ended with 9 boards.
The success of the Blue Devil post players opened things up for the strength of Duke, its back-court. Duke was led by a pair of 2 guards in Luke Kennard and Grayson Allen, they scored 22 each to lead Duke in that category. Allen has become Dukes go-to scorer in the game and with the attention he is paid by opposing teams Duke will need other players to step up, Kennard did that in droves. Kennard had his best game in a Duke uniform, his 22 points were in the flow of the game and his footwork coming off of screens was flawless. Kennard was 7-9 from the field and 4-5 from beyond the arc. Luke Kennard’s 22 points contributed to the bench points advantage enjoyed by the Devils (27 to 15).
Matt Jones did not have a tremendous game for Duke in terms of numbers but defensively he was spot on. Jones Kept the Aggie guards off-balance with his on-the-ball-defense and took the usage of the 1-3-1 zone as a means of stop-gap on defense personally after Dukes last few games.
Defensively Duke held the Utah State Aggies to under 35% in 2 and 3 point shots and blocked 8 shots. The difference was that Duke did not give up on plays, boxed out as evidenced by a 40-26 advantage in rebounding numbers. 30 of Dukes 40 rebounds were defensive. Duke also only allowed 6 assists and managed 9 steals. Extremely efficient on D.
Minuses for Duke:
- A little lax on defense near the end of the game, big lead little time – I’m sure Coach K will address finishing games.
- 15 turnovers, a lot of these were unforced errors, and will need to be shored up before Indiana.
Pluses for Duke:
- 73.9% from the free throw line, huge for Duke going forward, has been in the last couple of games a stat of strength for Duke.
- 55.6% and 53.3% from the field from 2 and 3 point range respectively. Great numbers.
- 8 blocked shots, Duke was solid on defense throughout the game.
- 9 Steals, Duke utilized deflections to trigger the fast break against the Aggies. Typical Coach K defensive stat.