After sports media decided to jump on the Duke train and anoint them champions of the world a la Freddie Mercury Duke was about ready for a more pedestrian performance and after letting the Black Knights of Army stick around for 3/4 of the game, the Duke Blue Devils gave us that. Even with a 22 point win at home against Army Duke spent most of the game seemingly going at half speed while Army was precise, deliberate and fast. Duke eventually figured it out.
I wasn’t sure which Blue Devil team would show up against Eastern Michigan, a team with close ties to Syracuse in terms of style of play defensively – a long team with more size than Duke down low. It didn’t take long for the Blue Devils to establish dominance. Right out of the game Duke, on the strength of several Zion Williamson Dunks, a Cam Reddish 3 and a few drives by R.J. Barrett, Duke went on a 20-3 run to begin the game. The Devils followed that up with a 28 to 10 run to end the half. Duke saw and exploited the 2-3 zone employed by the Eagles without much difficulty finishing over the top and flashing Barrett and Williamson in the paint. Duke also applied some pressure of their own. Using a 3/4 court press and turning the Eagles over 14 times in the first half for 21 Duke points.
Duke coasted for much of the game, tinkered with lineups and got some time from their bench. Coach K also sat freshman Cam Reddish for the majority of the second half due to a minor injury.
Zion Williamson paced the Blue Devils with 21 points in 21 minutes of action, going 10 of 12 from the field, Williamson also pulled down 9 rebounds. R.J. Barrett went for 20 on 8-21 from the field, paring that with 6 assists. Duke got 8 points from junior center Marques Bolden who also had 2 blocks versus the Eagles. In a rarity for a Coach K team in recent years, the Duke bench contributed 30 points. The Blue Devils got 10 a piece from Javin DeLaurier and Jack White and 8 from sophomore Alex O’Connell. Next up for Duke is the Maui Invitational and a date with San Diego State.
Rebounding – 56-37 despite playing a bigger, older team
Not much let up for Duke in this one, put the game away early.
Free throw shooting – 7-16 for 43.8%
Three point shooting – 5-24 for 20.8%