What Just Happened
The Duke Blue Devils improved to 13-0 on the season with their 74-63 victory over the visiting Miami Hurricanes. The game was the first ACC matchup for both teams. While the game wasn’t always pretty, the Blue Devils did a fine job on the defensive end, especially on the perimeter. At the very least this win proves that Duke doesn’t need to shoot the lights out to walk away with a victory.
The Game Was Decided When
…Nolan Smith decided to take over. After picking up a questionable charging call along the sideline, Smith decided it was his time to shine. During a four-minute stretch starting at the 5:05 mark, Smith scored 13 in a row. Meanwhile, the Hurricanes only produced one bucket during that time. Suddenly a two-point lead is a 13-point lead, and the Canes never got closer than nine in the second half.
Who Deserves Mad Props?
Clearly, it’s Nolan Smith. The senior combo guard put the game in his back pocket tonight, turned to his teammates and said, “I got this.” If he’s not the best guard in the country right now, he’s certainly the most important.
For the fourth straight game, he made more shots than he missed. He made all of his free throws and finished with 28 points. He is averaging 24 points and 5.5 assists over the last two weeks.
Tonight, he again showed the complete package, driving to the lane with either hand, dishing when he was doubled and nailing the deep ball when no else could.
Don't Forget About...
Andre Dawkins. I’m not sure why Mike Krzyzewski has him coming off the bench, but it didn’t bother him tonight. In a night where Seth Curry had four more fouls than made shots (4-0), Dawkins stepped up to be that third option tonight. He finished with 16 on the night. What was most impressive was that Dawkins did not hesitate to drive the ball to the lane. He’s growing more and more comfortable inside the paint.
Losers Need Love Too...
Reggie Johnson. Baby Shaq was a monster tonight. When not sitting on the bench with two fouls, he owned the paint. He finished with 22 points and nine boards. The kid is a natural. Despite weighing over 300 pounds, Johnson has soft hands and quick feet. He showed us a handful of post moves and a sweet baseline drive/junk right past Mason Plumlee.
If this guy could ever stay out of foul trouble, he could be one of the best in the ACC. Tonight he did all his damage in only 23 minutes. Duke’s big run happened in the back end of the first half, with Johnson on the bench.
What has to be so frustrating for Miami fans is the fact that all four of his fouls tonight were stupid. His first foul was 20 feet from the basket. His second was also away from the basket, where the Duke player was in no position to score. The third foul was a lazy swipe from behind Miles Plumlee after a Miami miss. The final was that questionable elbow.
God, I Love Stats
Did you ever notice Duke struggles with offensive rebounding when Kyle Singler misses a shot? I did. Tonight, Kyle Singler missed 10 shots and none were rebounded by a Duke player.