Duke basketball center Dereck Lively II has played a significant role in his team’s defensive success.
On Thursday night, playing on their biggest stage yet, the No. 5 seed Duke basketball team took down No. 12 seed Oral Roberts Golden Eagles, 74-51.
At times, it seemed like the Blue Devils couldn’t miss.
Shooting 50-percent from the field and 40-percent from 3-point range, Duke played a stellar offensive game.
However, it was Dereck Lively’s protection of the rim that gave Duke a significant boost.
The 7-foot-1 center ended the game with only four points but was able to grab 12 rebounds and an assist while registering a whopping six blocks in the victory.
Lively was a key factor in Duke’s success down low as the Golden Eagles were able to acquire 21 defensive rebounds in comparison to 33 by the Blue Devils, but the Oral Roberts guards were most certainly deterred after the Blue Devil accumulated block after block at the rim.
Duke’s other star big man, Kyle Filipowski, struggled, as he reportedly ate bad food at the hotel prior to the game.
Thankfully, Lively was able to pick up for Filipowski.
Duke basketball needs production from center in Round of 32
After sustaining a calf injury early in the season, Dereck Lively had a rough time finding his role on both ends of the floor.
Throughout the season, Lively has progressed in several phenomenal ways for Duke.
In the second half of the season, Lively has come out as a much stronger threat on the defensive end and currently he is averaging 5.4 points, 1.1 assists, 5.2 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks per game.
If the top ranked recruit in the freshman class can keep up the intensity, Duke has a promising position in the tournament.
On Saturday, Duke will face No. 4 seed Tennessee at 2:40p.m. ET (CBS) in Orlando, Florida.