Duke basketball: Arizona head coach knew he had the ‘better team’

Tommy Lloyd coaches against the Duke basketball team (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Tommy Lloyd coaches against the Duke basketball team (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /

Arizona knew they had a better team than the Duke basketball program. 

Friday night proved to be the perfect introduction to the college basketball season when the Duke basketball team hosted the Arizona Wildcats as the two historic programs put on a classic.

While the game was not decided until the final seconds, Arizona head coach Tommy Lloyd was confident his team would emerge from Durham with the victory.

“I told them, ‘Play with poise because you’re the better team. Trust that you’re the better team over 40 minutes,'” Lloyd said in his post game press conference when asked about his message to his team when the Blue Devils made multiple runs in the second half.

No. 12 Arizona would close out a 78-73 victory over No. 2 Duke.

The Wildcats led by eight points, 41-33, at halftime and the Blue Devils would not take its first lead of the second half until there was 12:47 left on a layup from seldom played freshman Sean Stewart.

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The lead would not last as the next Duke advantage did not come until the final minutes in which a Jeremy Roach 3-pointer put the home team back in front by two, 67-65, with 2:11 remaining.

Kyle Filipowski would reclaim the Blue Devil lead with 1:09 left, 69-67, but five straight points from Arizona would ultimately seal the fate of Jon Scheyer’s team as the Wildcats were perfect from the free throw line in the final 20 seconds of the game.

“I feel like we’ll be as good of a ball club as anyone in the country,” Lloyd continued.

Duke basketball with significant mistakes to fix

Arizona out-rebounded Duke, 45-33, and were able to overcome its 17 turnovers in the victory because of its 12 offensive rebounds as the Blue Devils have a lot of things to clean up going forward.

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Only Kyle Filipowski and Jeremy Roach were able to reach double figures in the game for Duke while the entire starting lineup for the Wildcats scored at least 11 points.

The next significant test for each team will be against the Michigan State Spartans but the challenge comes much quicker for Duke with a trip to Chicago for the Champions Classic on Tuesday as Arizona will wait until November 23 for its clash with Tom Izzo’s squad.

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