Blue Devils Squash Ducks

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WHAT JUST HAPPENED:
The Duke Blue Devils dominated the Oregon Duck in Portland Saturday afternoon, 98-71. Duke jumped out early 7-0, led behind a motivated Kyle Singler and never looked back. The closest the Ducks would get is 11, early in the second half, before Duke pulled away for good.

The Blue Devils improved to 6-0 and with both Kansas State (to Duke) and Michigan State falling this past week, Duke is clearly the number one team in the nation.

THE GAME WAS OVER WHEN
…Duke went on a 19-1 run that started at the 17:54 mark and ended just two and a half minutes later. Up to that point, Oregon had managed to hang around, keeping Duke’s lead at around 12-14 points.

It looked like that would be the case for the rest of the game when Duke came out of the half flat. In Duke’s first five possessions in the second half, they turned it over three times, failing to make a single basket. Yet, Oregon wasn’t able to capitalize and Duke suddenly caught fire.

The key was the three. Duke was only 4-12 from long range at that point, but during the 19-1 run, the Blue Devils went 4-4 from three-point range, two of which came off of offensive rebounds. They would finish 9-15 from three in the second half.

Just like that, Oregon went from looking at a reasonable 12-point deficit to suddenly being down 30 with just over 15 to play.

WHO DESERVES MAD PROPS:
Kyle Singler decided to end his mini-slump on his return trip to his home state of Oregon. He finished with a career high 30 points. He shot 9-15 for the game, 5-9 from three and a perfect 7-7 from the charity stripe. In his last four, Singler was just 17-49 (35-percent).

Clearly Kyle wanted to set the tone early. On Duke’s first two possessions, with his brother E.J. defending him, Singler roamed the baseline before bouncing outside with a screen. In each case, Singler took the ball to the paint, putting up easy shots. He made both shots, getting a plus one the second time.

DON’T FORGET ABOUT
…the big guy, Mason Plumlee. He only took seven shots, but production isn’t always about points. Mason did a great job taking care of business on the defensive end against a team that likes to score in the paint.

Mason grabbed 12 rebounds, 11 of which were defensive rebounds. Along with Miles’ 10 rebounds, the pair held Oregon to only eight offensive rebounds for the game. In fact, three of those rebounds came during junk time (the final 73 seconds), so really Duke only allowed five offensive rebounds during meaningful playing time.

LOSERS NEED LOVE TO:
Forward Joevan Catron came in averaging about 19 per contest and he kept that pace up with 18 against Duke. While he struggled from the field (5-13), he did manage to get 11 trips to the line, hitting eight free throws.

GOD I LOVE STATS: 2:10 & 4:53 – Duke has played 240 minutes of basketball this year. They have trailed for a total of 2:10. They’ve been tied for a total of 4:53. That means the Blue Devils have led for roughly 233 of the 240 minutes this season.

THREE FROM THE TOP OF THE KEY:

DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONS
A lot of the talk about Duke’s guards has been about their offensive abilities, but it might be time to talk about what they’re doing on the defensive end. Less than a week ago, the Devils shut down Jacob Pullen. They held the pre-season All-American to 1-12 shooting.

Against Oregon, the Devils made the Ducks’ guards disappear. Malcolm Armstead and Garrett Sim, were only 1-4 from the field. Neither hit a three and they combined for five assists to seven turnovers. They had zero impact on this game.

The guards off the bench (Llyod, Williams and Strowbride) did manage to score 23, but the threesome needed 21 shots to get it.

THE HALF-COURT TRAP
Oregon head coach, Dana Altman, decided to throw a half-court trap at Duke and for a while, it seemed to really frustrate this Duke team.

With about six and a half minutes left in the first half, Duke really struggled to advance the ball past this trap. The trapping began with Nolan Smith running the point, but even when Kyrie Irving was brought back in, he struggled to get past it too.

During a four-minute stretch, Duke made zero baskets and turned it over four times (their only two points came on Kyle Singler free throws from a technical foul for hanging on the rim).

Obviously it is something Duke will need to work on during practice because you know future opponents were taking notes.

SINGLER VS. SINGLER
The two brothers went head-to-head for the first time ever and Kyle clearly won this one. Actually, E.J. was guarding his brother at the beginning, but after Kyle scored five points in less than a minute, the younger brother was pulled off his older brother.

While Kyle continued to light it up, E.J. couldn’t get a shot to go in until early in the second half. In fact, E.J. was just 2-7 until he started dumping in baskets junk time.

FINAL DEEP THOUGHTS:
Another impressive win for Duke. The only worry one could have was the idea of a trap game, with this match up sandwiched between games against Kansas State and Michigan State. In the end, it was no problem.

During the game, the sideline reporter (I can’t recall her name) talked about how deep Duke is, but that’s sort of not true. It’s not like Duke is rotating in 10-11 players. For the third straight game, Coach K used a eight-man rotation, that has Duke going smaller when the bench players are on the floor.

What Duke is though is a balanced team. On any given night, six or seven players could lead this team in scoring.