Thursday marked a colossal win for the Blue Devils as Duke went on to defeat the bad guys by a score of 86-78. Aside from this being arguably the greatest and most competitive rivalry in all of sports, taking down the Tar Heels is by far Duke’s most impressive win of the season. Here are my three takeaways:
G-Money Gaining Confidence
Grayson Allen was absolutely tremendous in the win. He scored 25 points, taking only 15 field goals, while hitting a whopping seven threes. There was a point in the season when many fans, including myself, were fearful that we had seen the last of the gritty, confident, fearless Grayson that led Duke to its fifth National Championship in 2015, but that question was answered Thursday night. Grayson’s touch is back, and more importantly, his body language looks much better on the floor.
Harry and Marques Looking More Comfortable
In ten minutes of action, Harry Giles was 3-3 shooting with 2 rebounds and 1 block, including an acrobatic layup off a feed from Grayson. This is the type of productivity that everyone loves to see out of the gradually improving talent known as Harry Giles. He still has a ways to go but seems to be getting more and more comfortable every time on the floor. In addition, I thought Bolden looked pretty sharp defensively and is adjusting to the speed of the game. These two guys are critical for Duke’s chances in March and I’d expect their minutes to keep increasing.
Weathering the Carolina Storm
I thought Coach K and Duke did an excellent job of handling the Carolina offense that thrives off of fast breaks and offensive rebounds. The way Roy Williams has Carolina playing, there is bound to be at least a couple momentum shifting runs coming from fast break buckets, but the Blue Devils never got sucked into the trap. When the runs occurred, Duke slowed the pace and recovered. Additionally, Duke actually managed to win the rebounding battle by a score of 31-30 against a Carolina team that is number one in the nation in rebounding, averaging 44.2 per game. This is a testament to Tatum’s valiant effort on the glass with assistance from the guards and the steady Amile Jefferson.