So many different angles and stories to talk about in this game it’s hard to know where to start. Duke defeated the feisty Florida Gators 84 – 74 and this is a Gator team that is better than I thought, they have some pieces and clearly will make some noise with their exceptional guard play. Duke struggled early with keeping the Gators out of the paint. Gator guards penetrated with ease against Duke in the first half and without a run in the waning minutes Duke very easily could have been down at the half. Instead Duke was up by ten on the strength of 18 and 13 points respectively from Amile Jefferson and Luke Kennard. Amile would score a career high and end with 24 points, 15 rebound, 2 assists and 4 blocks.
Luke Kennard may have been the player of the game on the offensive end, scoring 29 points on 11-16 shooting and 5-7 from beyond the arc. It wasn’t just Kenner’s totals that made him the most valuable player but it was timely shots – shots to counter positive offensive possessions from Florida. Kennard was a one man run stopper.
Jayson Tatum showed why he is a projected first rounder in his second game back from a foot injury. Tatum wowed the crowd with fadeaway jumpsuits, step-backs and a couple of successful fast break conversions. Tatum was efficient and decisive with the ball and brought a mid-range game to a Duke team who seemed to only be able to score from either the 3 point line or the paint. Tatum is that 3rd dimension. Tatum ended with 22 points and 8 rebounds.
Duke still has a ways to go defensively but I guarantee you most if not all Duke fans had goosebumps watching this team show some of what we’ve all wanted to see since the end of last season. There were shades of a team with so many weapons that they just look unguardable – who do you sag off of?
Duke won the rebounding battle essentially playing one big in Jefferson.
Duke shot 92.9% from the free throw line
Duke shot 53.3% from the field
Duke had 3 20 point scorers
Perimeter defense, allowing Florida to shoot 54.5% from 3 point range.
Duke allowed too many points in the paint 40.
While 13 turnovers is not a huge number Duke had a number of unforced errors.