Duke basketball finally put pieces together in much-needed victory

Duke basketball forward Jalen Johnson (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Duke basketball forward Jalen Johnson (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /
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Duke basketball
Duke basketball forward Jalen Johnson (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports) /

Duke basketball players who improved their stock against Georgia Tech

Jalen Johnson

A bad first half turned into a spectacular second half for Jalen Johnson as he capped off the win with multiple ‘and-ones’ and clutch free throws in the final minutes.

Johnson showed his ability to take over a game, as he did against Pittsburgh, finishing with 18 points, six rebounds, two assists, three steals, and two blocks on 7-of-11 shooting from the field and 4-of-5 from the free throw line.

The five-star freshman only had two points at halftime after he was limited to eight minutes because of picking up two early fouls.

Foul trouble has been the biggest issue with Johnson’s game in his return from injury, but Tuesday night should show that he is the best player on this Duke team and needs to have the ball in his hands on offense.

Jordan Goldwire

We’ve been critical of Jordan Goldwire this season because at times it seems like he’s trying to do too much as the senior leader of this team.

However, Duke doesn’t come close to a victory without its point guard against Georgia Tech for both his efforts on offense or defense.

His aforementioned steal was arguably the biggest play of the game, but on the ensuing offensive possession, he forced a foul which resulted in two made free throws, pushing the Duke lead to three points.

Goldwire played 35 minutes coming off the bench, finishing with 11 points, five rebounds, seven assists, and two steals on 4-of-7 shooting and making his lone attempt from three-point range. The two made free throws were also the only attempts from the stripe all game for the senior.

If Jordan Goldwire can stay within himself and put forth a performance like this going forward, Duke will be in a great position to make the NCAA Tournament, as weird as that sounds.

Mark Williams

Mark Williams is a seldom-played five-star freshman, but it seems he is getting more comfortable on the floor, especially Tuesday night.

Williams finished with six points and six rebounds in 13 minutes on 3-of-6 shooting.

The 7-footer provides something that Duke has been lacking this season, a rim-protecting shot blocker and a rebounding force in the paint.

Matthew Hurt has been outstanding for Duke this season, but given his frame and athletic ability, he has his defensive and rebounding issues that could be somewhat neutralized with a productive Williams at the center position.

The major dilemma would come if Jalen Johnson, Matthew Hurt, and Mark Williams were all on the court together, allowing potential difficulties on the offensive end of the floor with the team’s spacing.

But for now, Mark Williams could be exactly what Duke needs on defense.