Coach Jeff Capel described it as surreal, facing his former coach and alma mater but that feeling didn’t last long. The first year Pitt coach was as fiery as he was as an associate head coach for the Blue Devils. Once the ball was tipped it was time to go to work.
Duke entered into the Petersen Events Center still a man down but also having shown against a tough UVA squad that they still had the ability to function minus Tre Jones. Pitt is in search of their first real signature win, having beaten Louisville and only losing to a top 20 Iowa team by 1 point, it was obvious that this was not the Pitt of old. Boasting elite guard play, the Panthers are the best team at getting to the foul line in the ACC. The Panthers showed that prowess against Duke but not nearly enough to dent the double digit lead held by the Devils throughout the game.
The game started with the two teams trading baskets to the tune of a 13 to 13 tie, but after that the Panthers could not muster enough offense nor enough stops to keep up with the Devils. The Blue Devils ended the half on a 31-12 run and a 19 point lead. The Panthers ever managed to get closer than 15 to the Blue Devils who made the move to a 2-3 zone in the second half that seemed to confound the Panthers. While Pitt had no problems finishing in the lane against the Blue Devils, those opportunities were few and far between once Duke went to zone. Duke held the Panthers to just 20% shooting from beyond the arc, and even with 50% shooting in the second half Pitt was unable to significantly make up ground against the zone.
The 1-2 punch of R.J. Barrett and Zion Williamson put up 26 and 25 points respectively with Zion adding 7 assists and 7 rebounds and Barrett adding 5 rebounds and 3 assists. Cam Reddish also scored in double figures for the Blue Devils adding 15 points, dishing 4 assists and grabbing 6 rebounds. The Blue Devils also got 9 rebounds from junior center Marques Bolden, who also added 7 points and 4 blocked shots.
Trey McGowens led the Panthers in scoring with 14 points. Jared Wilson-Frame added 12 points off the bench for Pitt and center Terrell Brown added 12 points and 6 boards.