Duke basketball: Encouraging signs continue following Jimmy V Classic

Duke basketball wing Dariq Whitehead (Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images)
Duke basketball wing Dariq Whitehead (Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images) /

The Duke basketball team is showing signs of improvement following its latest victory. 

Jon Scheyer got his first win in ‘Cameron North’ as the Duke basketball program improved to 9-2 (1-0 ACC) with a convincing win against another Big Ten foe, Iowa.

The Hawkeyes came into the game with a 6-1 record with victories over Seton Hall, Clemson and Georgia Tech but never faced a team with the firepower like the Blue Devils.

The message to this Duke team defensively was to stop Kris Murray at all costs, and they were extremely effective throughout the night.

Murray finished eight points on 3-of-9 shooting and missed all of his shots from 3-point range.

Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery did not have him in the game in the last few minutes while Iowa tried to make a late push to cut its deficit to single digits as Mark Mitchell and Dariq Whitehead should get most of the credit for slowing down one of the more versatile scorers in the country.

The 3-point line continues to be the difference maker for this Duke team.

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Duke made six 3-pointers in the first half including two from Jeremy Roach. When the Blue Devil captain is aggressive early in games it sets the tone for the team and its offense.

Mark Mitchell continued his strong play from Saturday’s win over Boston College and displayed aggressive drives and finishes against Iowa, which completely changed the look and feel of this Duke team as he has not been able to shoot it consistently.

As the Blue Devils have appeared to setting on its starting rotation, Mitchell has to be able to drive off of closeouts and score at the rim to keep the defense honest. When he does this, it keeps opponents from sagging off of him and clogging up the lane.

Duke basketball offense continues to improve

Duke’s offense also looked much different than it had in previous games as they ran a few different sets and moved the ball much quicker than usual.

The pace of play was efficient and effective when the guards were aggressive in the ball screens and were able to get two feet into the paint throughout the night.

Dereck Lively II could not get into any sort of rhythm due to foul trouble and the freshman continues to struggle with defensive rotations on simple plays such as when to block a shot, when to wall up, and when to alter shots.

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Ryan Young continues to be an anchor for this team, despite his athletic limitations, but he has been the only back-to-the-basket threat for this team and has continued to rebound at a decent clip for his minutes.

Dariq Whitehead continued to take positive steps towards the player everyone knows he is capable of being.

Overall, this was a convincing win by the Blue Devils led by the season best 22 points from its captain Jeremy Roach.

Overall, this was a convincing win by the Blue Devils led by the season best 22 points from its captain Jeremy Roach.

Duke’s schedule slows down over the next two weeks with only three games between now and the end of the calendar year.

Practice and rest will do this team wonders before they head into rigors of ACC play.

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