Zion Williamson, Duke Cruise Past Princeton; RJ Barrett Drops 27 Points

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistDecember 19, 2018

Duke's Zion Williamson (1) and RJ Barrett (5) high-five late in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Hartford in Durham, N.C., Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Ben McKeown)
Ben McKeown/Associated Press

The second-ranked Duke Blue Devils rolled to a 101-50 victory over the Princeton Tigers on Tuesday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, North Carolina.

Zion Williamson tallied 17 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks to help Duke move to 10-1, while fellow freshman sensation RJ Barrett added 27 points and six boards in the blowout.

The Tigers dropped to 5-5 having lost three of their past four games following a 4-2 start to the 2018-19 college basketball season.

             

Duke's Sluggish Start Showcases Need For Depth Scoring

The Blue Devils were always going to win Tuesday's game. The talent disparity was too much for Princeton to overcome. Yet, the underdogs were in front for most of the first half until a 23-8 run over the final six minutes gave Duke the lead for good.

It represented a small, but notable, warning sign for the No. 2 team in the country.

Far too often the Blue Devils' secondary contributors were hesitant to attack, instead yielding to the standout freshman duo of Barrett and Williamson.

Although on they've risen to the occasion in almost every instance this season, and they eventually did against the Tigers as well, they both struggled at the same time for a while Tuesday.

Barrett made just three of his first 11 shots from the field, and Williamson was stuck on two points until there were less than five minutes left on the first-half clock.

Duke overwhelmed Princeton from that point forward so it really didn't matter. But as the schedule begins to get tougher with ACC play and eventually the NCAA tournament, the team might not be so lucky if they go through such an extended rut early in a game.

The key in those situations moving forward is for someone else to try to take charge. Whether it's fellow freshmen Cam Reddish and Tre Jones or upperclassmen such as Jack White and Marques Bolden, other players must realize when it's time to step up to provide more support of superstar tandem.

Otherwise, it was another impressive performance from the national title contenders, who held the Tigers to 30 percent shooting, outrebounded them 50-25 and forced them into 19 turnovers.

             

What's Next?

The Blue Devils close out the 2018 portion of their schedule Thursday night when they travel to Madison Square Garden in New York City for a neutral-site clash with the No. 12 Texas Tech Red Raiders.

Princeton continues its three-game road trip Friday night against the Lafayette Leopards.

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