On Saturday, the Blue Devils lost yet another nail-biting ACC game by a score of 55-50 in favor of Miami. The loss puts Duke at 22-7 on the season and 10-6 in ACC play leaving them 3 games back from first place. Here are my takeaways from the low-scoring affair:
Shooting Woes Doom Devils
For the first time in a while, Duke did a pretty decent job defending the rim. Unfortunately, Duke’s impressive defensive performance, holding Miami to only 55 points, came at a time when Duke’s shooting was at its absolute worst. Duke shot a dreadful 32% from the field and 24% from behind the arc. But despite having their worst shooting performance of the season and playing without veterans Grayson Allen the entire game and Amile Jefferson most of the second half, Duke only lost by five to a 20-8 ACC team on the road. This is why I remain optimistic about this team. It was a game full of missed layups and in-and-out shots, and I expect the Blue Devils to bounce back.
Injury Bug Leaves Game to Freshmen
Duke just can’t seem to shake the injury bug this year. Grayson Allen sat with an ankle injury and Amile Jefferson was limited with his nagging foot injury. After the game, K said that Jefferson hasn’t been running and that both Amile and Grayson are questionable for Tuesday’s game vs. Florida State. This left a difficult road game into the hands of the freshmen who played a combined 102 minutes of the game. Overall, I thought the freshmen did a decent job. Harry remained active on the glass with eight rebounds including five offensive. Bolden made a huge impact defensively by altering and blocking shots at the rim. In only 14 minutes Marques recorded three blocks. Both Harry and Marques remain far from their ceiling as they continue to struggle finishes shots at the rim and handling high ball screens but they have proven their ability to contribute to this team. I am a big Tatum fan but his shot selection down the stretch was questionable and he had a rough day at the rim. Despite a horrid day of shooting, Jayson had another fine game on the glass and was passing very well. And then there is Frank Jackson…
Frank Jackson Emerging
Frank the Tank was in full alpha mode on Saturday. His unparalleled grit and explosiveness was the primary reason the Blue Devils were even in this one down the stretch. Frank dropped 16 points while adding six rebounds and three assists. There are still flashes of freshman mistakes that Frank makes with the ball but his ability to accelerate to the basket is refreshing to see being surrounded by guys who tend to settle for outside jumpers. Perhaps even more impressive has been Frank’s ability to stay in front of guards on the defensive end, a task that has haunted Grayson Allen and the Blue Devils all season. I hope we will see more rotations with Frank Jackson on the floor in the future.