Once again the injury bug dominated the conversation amongst Duke fans after a 78-68 win against a feisty Penn State team. Duke lost sophomore Chase Jeter for the game and most likely for the game tomorrow with an apparent ankle injury suffered in the first half. Duke fans also gasped collectively as Grayson Allen came up lame after a drive into the lane, Allen left the game for the locker room but did re-emerge to finish the game scoring 12 points on 4-10 shooting. Allen was said to be nursing some sort of toe injury.
Duke was paced by freshman Frank Jackson who scored 17 points off the bench. Jackson was 6-14 from the floor and showed why he was a top ten recruit coming into the season taking the ball strong on drives to the basket.
Matt Jones and Luke Kennard added 15 points each for the Blue Devils.
Amile Jefferson may have been the key to Duke being able to hold on in this game. Jefferson had a monster game pulling down 16 rebounds and scoring 16 points. With Duke being short on bodies in the front-court Jefferson was a crucial cog in this game. Duke would need each of them as they barely edged out the Nittany Lions with an edge of +3 on the boards.
Defensively Duke was not sharp, and was routinely taken off the dribble. Players seemed to still be adjusting as refs are starting to enforce impeding the offensive player fouls. Duke found themselves in some foul trouble in the waning moments of the first half and much of the second half as well.
Where Duke is still struggling mightily is in the back-court. Once again Duke would have more turnovers (13) than assists (11) and sans a few series here and there looked out of sync on offense. When Duke moved the ball around inside and out and then around the perimeter it created the space needed for open shots and also held the defense honest which opened up some space for Jefferson to work but those instances were few and far between.
Getting the win despite injury is always a good thing. Duke also was able to get some good minutes from Antonio Vrankovic. Duke got a balances scoring attack and shot a little better from he free throw line in the second half.
Still not the fluidity on offense for extended periods of time, there are inklings of good ball movement. Obviously losing Chase Jeter stings Duke, especially with back-to-back games and an already short bench. Also bad the assist to turnover ratio still not in Dukes favor with 13 turnovers and 12 assists. Clearly Duke has tired legs but it must be noted that they shot only 37.5% from 3 point rate for the game – only 30% in the second half.