Career night from Duke basketball standout propels Blue Devils to victory

Duke basketball (Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports)
Duke basketball (Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports) /

A career night from a Duke basketball standout pushed the Blue Devils to a sloppy victory.

It certainly wasn’t a pretty victory for the Duke basketball program, but a win is a win as college basketball is played in the 2020-21 season.

Following Tuesday night’s loss to Michigan State, the Blue Devils welcomed Bellarmine into Cameron Indoor Stadium for not only its first game of the year but its first game as a Division I program.

Duke was able to start fast thanks to the nerves of the Knights, but Bellarmine was able to slowly creep back, cutting the Blue Devil lead to as little as three late in the first half.

Mike Krzyzewski‘s team was able to put together a late run in the final stages of the opening 20 minutes to take a 35-25 lead into halftime, and hot shooting to start the second half resulted in a 19-point lead.

Duke (2-1) was able to continue its strong second half and hold off Bellarmine (0-1) en route to a 76-54 victory.

Sophomore forward Matthew Hurt led the way for the Blue Devils with a season-high 26 points, making a career-best six 3-pointers.

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Hurt’s career-high is 25 points in a win over Boston College last season, where he dropped five 3-pointers.

The Minnesota native shot 9-of-12 from the field and 6-of-8 from downtown, also adding six rebounds, two assists, a steal, and a block.

Jaemyn Brakefield also followed up his positive game against the Spartans with another stellar performance against Bellarmine with 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting, and all his made field goals were from 3-point range.

Brakefield was a perfect 4-of-4 from beyond the arc.

Krzyzewski made another adjustment to the starting lineup, reinserting Jordan Goldwire and pairing Mark Williams alongside Hurt, Wendell Moore, and Jalen Johnson.

Williams showed many impressive signs in his first true action as a Blue Devil with five points, seven rebounds, three assists, and four blocks in 15 minutes.

Hurt and Brakefield were the only Blue Devils to reach double figures, and all 11 players that saw the floor scored, including graduate transfer Patrick Tape, who made his Duke debut with two points and a rebound.

Duke basketball still has many things to work on

Friday night’s victory was by no means pretty, but Duke showed the resolve of hitting 50.0 percent of its shots from 3-point range (13-of-26).

However, the Blue Devils turned the ball over 18 times, resulting in 18 points for Bellarmine.

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The Knights also outscored Duke 38-30 in the paint, which is completely unacceptable given the talent discrepancy between the two programs.

Duke saw its matchup on Sunday against Elon become postponed, and the Blue Devils have opted not to fill that vacancy. So it will be another primetime matchup for the No. 6 team in the nation, welcoming No. 5 Illinois to Cameron Indoor Stadium on Tuesday night (9:30 pm EST, ESPN).

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