Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett Lead Duke to Blowout Win over Eastern Michigan

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistNovember 15, 2018

DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA - NOVEMBER 14: Zion Williamson #1 of the Duke Blue Devils dunks against the Eastern Michigan Eagles during the first half of their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on November 14, 2018 in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Playing its first game as the No. 1 team in the country didn't slow down Duke, which kept rolling with an 84-46 blowout win over Eastern Michigan.

The game was one-sided from the start as the Blue Devils scored 46 of the first 55 points and led 48-13 at halftime. The squad kept its foot on the pedal to earn the team's largest win so far this season.

Zion Williamson had 21 points and nine rebounds, while RJ Barrett added 20 points as part of a dominant effort Wednesday at Cameron Indoor Stadium.


No One at the College Level Will Slow Down Zion Williamson

There are some concerns about how Williamson's game will translate to the next level. At 6'7" without a great outside shot, it's hard to determine what position he will play in the NBA.

However, there should be zero doubt about his ability to dominate in college.

The freshman is an athlete who can attack the basket and throw down dunks we haven't seen at this level in years. His performance Wednesday had enough highlight-reel plays to fill up a season-long mixtape:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

AIR ZION (via @FOXSportsSouth) https://t.co/G5vjRvzDnd

FOX Sports South @FOXSportsSouth

ZION WILLIAMSON JUST TOOK FLIGHT 😳😳😳 https://t.co/6eUalK3fz5

FOX Sports South @FOXSportsSouth

HOW? https://t.co/ICrKrgKBFP

FOX Sports South @FOXSportsSouth

ZION DUNK COUNTER: ♾ https://t.co/0fEE8kswzf

While he has been attempting to round out his skill set, this game was all about getting to the rim and showcasing his power and athleticism. This helped him finish 10-of-12 from the field in yet another efficient effort after shooting 81.5 percent in the first two games.

Even if you dismiss this as an easy showing against an inferior opponent, there aren't any other players on any team who can match the forward physically and keep him out of the lane. 

Additionally, Eastern Michigan is one of the better teams in the MAC and could be NCAA tournament-bound. 

The reality is Williamson can keep doing what he is doing and put up big numbers all season. He won't need to beat players off the dribblejust bring down the lobs thrown by Tre Jones and Barrett.

Duke will face some quality opponents during the regular season, especially North Carolina and Virginia. There will be tough defenses, including the 2-3 zone at Syracuse.

Still, no player or group of players will be able to prevent Williamson from getting to the rim. He should keep scoring at least 20 points nearly every game while putting up huge numbers throughout the year.


RJ Barrett Doesn't Need to Shoot Well to Be Dominant

Barrett was the best player on the floor in the season opener against Kentucky, scoring 33 points while shooting 3-of-7 from three-point range. He slowed down his shooting against Army with just 3-of-9 from three, but that was still better than what he did Wednesday.

Against Eastern Michigan, the freshman finished 0-of-4 from three-point range as part of a 8-of-21 shooting effort from the field.

Still, this didn't prevent him from scoring 20 points as he attacked the basket and got to the free-throw line with regularity.

This was part of a clear strategy from the Blue Devils seen throughout the first half:

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

Duke made 20 shots in the first half. 16 of them came at the rim. https://t.co/1vGPRMfSqc

Barrett was the No. 1 prospect in his class, per 247Sports, but the truth is he was never considered an elite shooter. The three-pointers are just a bonus when added to his driving ability and knack for creating opportunities for himself and others in the half court.

His effort in the last two games is closer to what you should expect from him compared to Game 1.

Meanwhile, scoring is just one part of his game. 

Barrett tallied six assists, four rebounds and a steal against Eastern Michigan, helping Duke pull away despite a quiet effort from Cameron Reddish (three points) and Jones (two points and eight assists).

This type of performance will be more than enough for the Blue Devils all season long.


What's Next?

Duke will now prepare for warm weather and tough matchups with the highly anticipated Maui Invitational Tournament. The team will face San Diego State in the first round Monday, while Gonzaga, Auburn and Arizona loom later in the bracket.

Eastern Michigan will return home Saturday for a game against Boston University.