1. Clutch leader(s)
Former Duke basketball national champ Tyus Jones was easy to trust late in games. And his little brother recently again called upon the shared clutch gene.
The perfectly executed purposely missed free throw. The overtime-forcing buzzer-beater. All the ice gushing through his veins down the stretch. Yes, in the Duke basketball history books, the heroics of point guard Tre Jones against the Tar Heels on Saturday night will forever rival the 2001 “Miracle Minute” from Jason Williams in terms of improbable comebacks and the legendary 2012 dagger from Austin Rivers in terms of Dean Dome demolitions.
Adding that performance to his several other Duke-saving feats in deciding moments this season, Jones sure does have the look of a player poised to become a household March Madness name.
However, it’s not just Jones. It’s also freshman forward Wendell Moore, who ultimately sealed the deal against UNC with a timely tip and then an even timelier game-winning putback seconds later. It’s frequent-flyer rookie Cassius Stanley, who put the Blue Devils on his back in crunch time of the season-opening win over Kansas and has delivered a crucial truckload of confident plays ever since. It’s even senior co-captain Javin DeLaurier, who transforms from a seemingly lost cause into a calm and collected weapon whenever he enters with an outcome on the line.
Many more names than just those above warrant mentioning, though, which leads us to the next feature of the team hinting at a fun Big Dance ahead…