Duke basketball players who were studs against Gardner-Webb:
Tuesday night was the 2021-22 season introduction of Mark Williams after three lackluster performances to begin the year.
Williams showed signs of how he finished his freshman season with 13 points, three rebounds, two assists, and six blocks on 6-of-9 shooting from the floor.
Duke needs its 7-footer to become a force in the paint once again in order to reach its maximum potential this season. Perhaps Tuesday night was the boost in confidence Mark Williams needed to get his sophomore season back on track and become the breakout candidate many had expected.
It was an incredible first half for freshman guard Trevor Keels as he put forth his best effort since the victory over Kentucky.
Keels ended the night with 18 points, seven rebounds, and four assists on 6-of-9 shooting from the field and 4-of-6 from 3-point range. All but two of Keels’ 18 points came in the first half as he led the initial Duke run to put the game out of reach by halftime.
Since his stunning performance in the Champions Classic, the Clinton, Maryland native has skyrocketed up draft boards and could be making himself a lot of money in the process.
Senior captain Joey Baker is also slowly growing into the season as he put together another quality showing on Tuesday night.
Baker did not have his best shooting night from the permitter, just making 1-of-4 attempts from deep, but ended the game with 13 points, two assists, and three steals on 4-of-7 shooting from the floor. The outing was on the heels of an 11-point, five-rebound showing against Campbell while shooting 3-of-5 from the field.
Joey Baker looked more comfortable on the floor in his movements with and without the basketball.
Baker’s versatility will continue to be huge for the Blue Devils this season.
AJ Griffin makes his debut on the ‘Studs’ list this season as the freshman looked the best he has all season.
Griffin, who was often injured in his high school career, is coming off of a sprained knee injury this preseason and still working his way back into the lineup. The White Plains, New York native played 16 minutes, by far a season-high, with five points, six rebounds, two assists, and two steals on 2-of-5 shooting in the victory.
The athleticism and potential of AJ Griffin seem limitless, and his continued health will be important for the depth of this Duke team.