Duke basketball has X-Factor emerge in fifth straight victory

Duke basketball forward AJ Griffin (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)
Duke basketball forward AJ Griffin (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images) /

Things are continuing to progress for one key Duke basketball forward. 

For the second consecutive game, it was a slow start for the Duke basketball team, but Friday night was different than Tuesday.

Tuesday was a slow four minutes. Friday was a sloppy 20 minutes for the Blue Devils, but things got rolling in the second half behind junior captain Wendell Moore.

Moore posted a game-high 23 points, six rebounds, four assists, and two steals on 9-of-14 shooting from the floor in Duke’s (5-0) 88-55 victory over Lafayette (0-4).

The Charlotte, North Carolina native has continued to take the next step in his development as Mike Krzyzewski has relied on Moore to lead this squad both on and off the floor.

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However, there were more fireworks in the starting lineup for Duke on Friday night as Mark Williams put together his second straight excellent performance with his first double-double of his sophomore season: 14 points, 15 rebounds, and four blocks on 7-of-13 shooting.

Friday night also served as the biggest night in the young career of freshman forward AJ Griffin, who poured in a season-high 18 points in a career-best 21 minutes of action.

Griffin added two rebounds and two steals to his stat line on 7-of-10 shooting, 4-of-6 from 3-point range.

The continued progress of the White Plains, New York native from his knee injury is a wonderful sign for the Blue Devils as the five-star recruit continues to get healthier with each passing game.

Other Duke basketball freshmen have sub-par outings against Lafayette

Friday night was the first game in the short Duke career of Paolo Banchero that he did not look like a superstar on the court.

Banchero chipped in 11 points, six rebounds, and three assists on just 4-of-12 shooting, but he was an encouraging 2-of-3 from downtown.

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Trevor Keels was also rather pedestrian in his outing with 10 points, four rebounds, and four assists on 4-of-10 shooting.

Duke must continue to try and correct its slow starts to games. But the second half was nearly the Blue Devils at their best, and the continued progress of AJ Griffin will only enhance the team’s chances of putting together a special run.

No. 7 Duke will return to the court on Monday night against The Citadel (3-1) inside Cameron Indoor Stadium.

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