The Duke basketball team did not have enough fight against Arkansas.
There are many adjectives that you can use to describe the Duke basketball performance against Arkansas on Wednesday night but head coach Jon Scheyer might have described it perfectly — “toughness”.
“It wasn’t the collective toughness that you have to have on the road,” the second year leader said in his postgame press conference.
The Razorbacks used an 19-6 run midway through the second half to expand upon its 1-point halftime lead over the Blue Devils and there was no response from the preseason ACC favorites until the closing minutes.
They looked overmatched defensively and tentative offensively.
The raucous, sold-out Bud Walton Arena got to the team that starts three sophomores and a senior — all of whom started last season — and made them look like freshmen.
“It makes you have to make plays, and we didn’t make enough of them,” Scheyer said of the environment and style of play from Arkansas, who was without its leading scorer, Tramon Mark, because of a back injury.
Duke basketball needs more effort for longer stretches
Duke, however, did show fight and it didn’t go unnoticed by the head coach.
An 11-point Arkansas lead, 74-63, with 2:07 to play was cut to just three, 78-75, with 17.8 seconds remaining but missed a few missed free throws and the inability to get one more steal prevented the comeback from being completed.
“I know I have a locker room full of guys that are competitors and winners,” Jon Scheyer added.
“We just have to do that all the time.”
The Blue Devils were crowned by many in the preseason as one of the few teams that had a legitimate chance at winning at National Title but they have looked anything but a championship team in the first month of the season.
A loss at home against Arizona, on the road against shorthanded Arkansas, and an uninspiring victory against Michigan State has left a lot to be desired with the exception of mostly blowouts against mid-major teams.
Now, another challenge comes on the road in conference play on Saturday afternoon against Georgia Tech, who just dismantled No. 21 Mississippi State, 67-59, on its home floor.
Duke only has about a day and a half to prepare for the Yellow Jackets but hopefully they are able to bring some toughness to Atlanta that was absent in Fayetteville.