Duke 85 – Gardner-Webb 66: Blue Devils dust off cobwebs in victory


Dec 16, 2013; Durham, NC, USA; Gardner Webb Runnin Bulldogs center Tyrell Nelson (20) fouls Duke Blue Devils forward Rodney Hood (5) as he shoots at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

The Duke Blue Devils did some good things, some bad things, and some okay things in their first game back after a thirteen-day layoff and cruised to an 85-66 victory over the Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs.

The Blue Devils, led by Jabari Parker‘s 21 points, shot the living hell out of the ball in the first half, where they shot 58.8% overall and hit seventeen of their first twenty-three shots. Most impressive of all was how diverse the scoring effort was, with Parker, Andre Dawkins, Quinn CookRodney Hood, and Josh Hairston all scoring multiple buckets in the first half.

The second half wasn’t as impressive of a performance, as Duke shot just 36.4%, but the defense was good enough to prevent a Gardner-Webb run, the rebounding remained one-sided, and the offense did just enough to never let things get uncomfortable.

While Gardner-Webb proved unable to keep up with Duke’s scoring outburst, they held their own throughout, shooting 27-50 (54.0%) overall and rarely letting the lead get above twenty points. For the most part, it was an acceptable performance from the Runnin’ Bulldogs. Sure, the 37-22 disadvantage they had on the boards is hideous, and perhaps they could’ve been a little better from beyond the arc (5-15), but I felt they presented a strong test for a Blue Devil team coming off a long break, and that is ultimately what they were there for.

Leading the way for Gardner-Webb was sophomore forward Jerome Hill, who shot 9-10 from the field and finished with 22 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 blocks. The scoring effort was a career high for Hill, who averages about half of that (10.8) on the season. Tyler Strange was also a big contributor, totaling 11 points 5 assists, and 3 rebounds on the night.

To the bullet-points:

  • Cook has taken back control of this offense and is beginning to thrive in his old role. The point guard scored 16 points and dished out 9 assists while also pulling in 4 rebounds and 2 steals. He was the best player on the court tonight, and the veteran now has two consecutive games with at least nine assists after only having one such game in the previous eight contests. If this is indeed a sign of things to come, this team just got so much more dangerous
  • I had no idea what to expect out of Rasheed Sulaimon heading into the night, and even with lowered expectations I left disappointed. Sulaimon played just five minutes, missing both of his shots and looking overly desperate to make something happen throughout. His spot in the regular rotation has been shredded to pieces and unless Matt Jones or Dawkins begin to slip, it is going to take a complete one-eighty on Sulaimon’s part before we see him earn any playing time any time soon.
  • Marshall Plumlee played five minutes and probably caused at least three earthquakes. Could use some verification on this.
  • I briefly mentioned the rebounding, but I need to reiterate: it was fantastic tonight. Jefferson continues to be the most efficient rebounder, producing ten of them in just 12 minutes, but the whole team stepped up on the boards for the most part, and it resulted in a 37-22 advantage. You know how many games you are going to lose when you are +15 rebounding? Not many.