In there first real test of the season the Blue Devils fall to the Kansas Jayhawks 69-64 in the Champions Classic. In a game where in the first half it looked like Duke was in for a beat down the Blue Devils held serve. Despite 11 first half turnovers, making 1 of 11 shot from beyond the arc and tallying only 2 assists the Blue Devils found themselves down only 4 at halftime. The youth showed itself early and often with the Blue Devils being called for multiple offensive fouls on drives in the half.
The second half saw Duke bring a lot more intensity on both ends. The Blue Devils battled back to take a lead on the Jayhawks but both teams volleyed for the lead – often trading buckets but too often trading turnovers. Neither team could manage a double figure lead in the second half with Kansas’ largest lead being 5 and the Blue Devils only 6. In the end Duke’s lack of experience and sloppiness with the ball would be their downfall. With 4 minutes left and a 5 point lead the Blue Devils had 3 turnovers, a missed front end of a 1 and 1 and couldn’t buy a basket, while on the defensive end the Blue Devils couldn’t defend in the waning moments without fouling and gave up a backdoor cut as well as several shots at the rim.
In the final tally the Blue Devils turned the ball over a whopping 18 times while only dishing 8 assists and turned the ball over 18 times that led to 19 KU points. Duke also only netted 6 fast break points to 12 from the Jayhawks. Kyle Filipowski and Jeremy Roach led the Blue Devils in scoring with 17 and 16 respectively with Filipowski notching his 3rd straight double-double adding 14 rebounds. No other Blue Devil netted more than 9. Tyrese Procter showed some signs of like in the second half scoring 9 points and leading the team in assists with 3. The freshman looked much more comfortable in the second half getting to his spots. The issue for the Blue Devils was coughing the ball up with 8 of the 9 players that saw the floor registering a turnover and 5 players netting 3 or more.
Turnovers were a huge issue in this game. Some just youthful weak drives to the paint but some were off of offensive foul calls on drives to the basket. Sometimes stepping up a level in competition shows you where you really are and that was evident against the Jayhawks. Duke has a lot to clean up there.
Shooting, which looked like it could be a strength, could be a concern for this team. I think a large part of that was Kansas really cutting off Duke’s ability to drive and kick and some of it was just nerves and youth. Duke still managed to hang in and at times play good enough defense to offset their offensive woes. Neither team shot the ball well with Duke shooting just 14.3% to Kansas’ 15.8% from 3.
Working back in players is going to be a much more arduous process than most realize. Just because you are off of the injured list and playing doesn’t mean you’ve fully caught up. People expect just because you are on the court that the time you missed isn’t consequential – Dereck Lively is healthy but obviously still has a ways to go to catch up and that is limiting for this team in these early games. The process basically starts over again when Dariq Whitehead is reintroduced to the team on the floor. I believe this team is a different team if both of those student-athletes start the season off healthy but these are good teaching lessons for young Coach Scheyer.
This team has fight. Obviously no one wants to lose but losing while fighting to a top 10 team vs losing and not putting up a fight are very different animals. Duke was never out of the game and it’s a very good sign that coming out of the half they looked and played like a different team. Teams that respond to in-game coaching in general are teams with a much higher arc to success than those that don’t (obviously).
The Blue Devils did capitalize from the free throw line where they went 13-16 for 81%, despite the huge amount of calls made against them for offensive fouls they remained steadfast in trying to get to the bucket.
Duke also had a phenomenal 21 offensive rebounds that they converted into 19 second chance points – a stat that singlehandedly probably kept them competitive.
This team is young in a lot of spots and as mentioned earlier, this team still isn’t 100% and the ceiling is still very high – I can’t say whether they will reach that ceiling but this still looks like a diamond in the rough. November success doesn’t mean a whole lot in March honestly. We know it’s going to be a bumpy ride but that’s all part of the process.
HEAD COACH JON SCHEYER
“First of all, congrats to Kansas. It was a back-and-forth game really the whole time. I mean, they have championship DNA, they’ve been there before. I thought we came out, looked tentative in the beginning. I thought our guys showed great heart, great resiliency in that second half to gain the lead. And really made some big-time plays. But overall, those possessions add up through 40 minutes, where you have 18 turnovers. I mean, that’s obviously a big stat right there and just valuing and taking care of the ball. But a lot to learn from this. To be in this environment and in this situation in game three for our group was, I think, going to be a big-time learning experience. It hurts, that’s how it should feel. But no time to waste, we come right back, play again on Friday, play the following Monday. And we have a lot of games going forward.”
On the message to the team after a back-and-forth game:
“Yeah, we actually before the game said it’s going to be a game of runs, and it’s whoever handles the adversity better is going to win. They did that down the stretch. I thought we had a chance there to extend that lead, and they’re tough. They’re not going to go away. It’s those pivotal moments into a TV timeout where ‘what shot are we getting’ or we have to work a little bit harder, we have to make them work on defense. I thought they made us work harder on defense than we made them work. And that was a big key to tonight’s game. I thought just the emotions for our young guys, the first game goes to double overtime, so we went out there three times to warm up and first time playing a game outside of Cameron. There’s a lot of different emotions that you feel. And I think our guys right now, they know we can be a lot better.”
On whether the game was a good learning experience for the team:
“There’s no question that’s the best form of learning. Just being in these moments, there’s no way to simulate it. That doesn’t mean I’m happy or I’m enjoying this loss by any means. You have to hate it and learn from it, grow from it. But playing in the Champions Classic every year, of course you want to come away winning, but you probably learn more when you lose. Even if we won that game, we would’ve won not being at our best with the way we took care of the ball and some of the plays we can make and do a better job of. But absolutely playing in this makes you better as a team and as a program.”
FRESHMAN CENTER KYLE FILIPOWSKI
On being the first freshman in program history to start a career with three straight double-doubles:
“I mean, that’s pretty cool … to start my career at Duke off. Obviously that doesn’t matter much to me right now after the game ending the way that it did. But just got to keep doing what I do, stay focused on the team getting the wins down the road. And learn from that.”
JUNIOR GUARD JEREMY ROACH
On how Kansas’ defense impacted Duke’s gameplan:
“We knew they were a great defensive team. They ran at the ball a lot. They helped. They plug off the ball, we knew that was a factor coming in, but we just want to be strong with the ball. They got their hands on a couple of them, turned the ball over, just kind of careless with the ball. I think they just did a great job on defense, just getting hands on balls. Just doing what they needed to do to get the win.”
• Duke head coach Jon Scheyer is in his first season as Duke’s head coach. His record is now 2-1.
• The game was the 14th in the series versus Kansas, with Duke now leading the series 8-6, including 1-3 in Champions Classic games.
• Duke’s 7-5 record all-time in the Champions Classic is now tied with Kansas (7-5) for the best among the four teams that annually compete in the event.
• Duke is now 2-1 in Champions Classic games played in Indianapolis.
• All-time in the city of Indianapolis, Duke’s record is 12-3.
• Duke is now 111-79 all-time in AP top-10 matchups
• Duke out-rebounded Kansas, 46-35, including a 21-12 advantage on the offensive glass. Through the first three games this season, Duke has a 57-26 advantage in offensive rebounds.
• Each of the eight Blue Devils that played in the game had at least one rebound.
• Duke has now connected on at least one three-point field goal in 1,156 consecutive games – the nation’s second longest active streak.
• Freshman Kyle Filipowski recorded a double-double with career highs in points (17) and rebounds (14). He becomes the first Duke freshman all-time to open a career with three consecutive double-doubles.
• Filipowski’s 14 rebounds were one shy of Duke’s Champions Classic record 15 by Amile Jefferson in 2015 vs. Kentucky.
• No Duke freshman has more rebounds through the first three games of a season than Filipowski’s 36, surpassing 33 by Mike Gminski (1977-78) and 32 by Zion Williamson (2018-19).
• Junior Jeremy Roach was the other Blue Devil in double figures with 16 points and four rebounds, playing 39:37.
• Freshman Tyrese Proctor scored nine points with three rebounds and three assists.