Duke came into Friday night fresh off of a huge victory against the number 2 Michigan State Spartans. The Southern Jaguars had been pushed around in 3 games not coming anywhere near sniffing a victory or even a close game. It looked like a complete mismatch on paper and very well should have been.
What we did know about Southern is that they were old, starting upperclassmen sans one sophomore and about Duke we knew they were young, experiencing a lot of things for the first time. Inevitably, some will say, Duke had a bit of a let down. Duke did win the game 78-61 but never truly could deliver the knock out punch. Duke never could sustain more than a few series of good basketball. It’s not to say that Southern didn’t play well because they did, they hit big shots against Duke and played with zero fear. Duke however gifted the Jaguars a lackluster effort hardly indicative of Duke basketball.
It was evident that players were more interested at times with leaking out to the fast break opportunity rather than securing rebounds. The ability to rebound the basketball is set to be a strength of this Duke team and the mindset to assume that others can get it will lead to a loss at some point in this season. The mindset is that the Devils need to rebound as a team, that includes each guard, each big.
While the outcome was never in doubt, fans waited for the moment, the lift but it really never came. Duke backed into a 17 point win but gave the coaches much to look at and talk about in film study.
Duke shot the ball at a 45% clip but in that they also only shot 20% from 3 point range including an 0-9 second half. The shooting woes were not surprising as Duke looked stagnant and disjointed of offense. Southern also benefitted from 15 Duke turnovers which led to 7 Southern points. Southern also had a 37-11 edge in bench points and routinely rotated in players who hit big shots.
Wendell Carter in the post game comments alluded to the selfishness that Duke exhibited in the game:
“We didn’t come out and play the way we were supposed to. I can’t speak for everybody and say people weren’t energized and took [Southern] for granted, but we’ve just got to come out and play unselfishly, like we’ve been playing for these first three or four games we’ve already played. We’re going to start it back up in practice tomorrow, come back out energized, communicating, and get back in the flow of things.”
“It seemed like people were kind of playing just to get their own a little bit. I’m not speaking for everybody, but that’s just what I saw from my perspective. We’ve just got to come out and be unselfish. That’s what keeps us going – being unselfish.”
“I think a couple of us took [Southern] for granted. We just didn’t contest shots they were taking, didn’t stop them from straight‐line drives, so I think we’re going to have a great practice tomorrow. We’re going to come out and get it back going again on Monday [versus Furman].”
Carter led the Devils in scoring with 20 points, and he also pulled down 11 boards and registered 6 clocked shots. Marvin Bagley, coming back from an injury to his eye against Michigan State also registered a double-double with 19 points and 11 boards.