Duke set out to use the game against the Hartford Hawks as a means to an end. The Blue Devils needed to work on their execution, they needed to defend better, they needed to work on bettering their reads on the offensive end as well. They needed to be sharper. That was not the game that was played.
Duke came out against the Hawks with a very lackluster performance on both ends of the floor. It was hard to tell whether Duke’s game malaise was attributable to projects and exams mentioned by Coach K or if the Hawks (the oldest team in the NCAA) just played at a high level. Maybe it was a little of both. It was never that the Blue Devils looked dazed, but out of sync. They never really seemed to click in the first half. Duke could not buy a bucket from beyond the arc – the first half saw the Devils hoist up 16 3 point shots only to see 3 go down. Luckily for Duke the Hawks were also bad from beyond the arc – the Devils were able to sustain a lead by maximizing their rebound advantage scoring 12 second chance points. The lack of execution had a visibly upset Coach K call a timeout and pound a folding chair into the ground in hopes of waking his team up.
The high octane Duke offense was only able to manage 33 points in the first half. The second half didn’t begin with much better results for the Blue Devils giving up a layup right out of the gate which saw Coach K again call a timeout to gather his squad and vent. After several fits and starts the Blue Devils finally began to put together stops. The 12 minute mark saw Duke use a 27 to 11 run to put the game out of reach.
The Devils were led in scoring by freshman R.J. Barrett who scored 27 points and gathered 15 rebounds, the freshman forward also added 4 assists. Freshman forward Cam Reddish struggled against the Hawks – shooting only 2-12 and 1-9 from beyond the arc with 3 turnovers. Freshman Zion Williamson also notched a double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds but also had 4 turnovers.