Rushed Reactions: #2 Duke 87, #15 Troy 65

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on March 17th, 2017

RTC will be providing coverage of the NCAA Tournament from start to finish. Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) is in Greenville this weekend.

Jayson Tatum was excellent on both ends of the floor in his first NCAA Tourney game.
(Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Three Key Takeaways.

  1. When they are hitting their threes this Duke team is almost impossible to guard. The Blue Devils came out on fire from deep – hitting 10-of-17 threes in the first half. And it wasn’t just one guy going off. Grayson Allen hit all three of his attempts from distance before half time, but four others connected as well. For the game, Duke went 13-for-28 from behind the arc and that was the difference in the game. That enabled the Blue Devils to overcome an off night by Luke Kennard  —  eight points on 3-of-12 shooting — and a deficit (-2) in points-in-the-paint.
  2. Troy is a good offensive basketball team. On the season, the Trojans are among KenPom’s top-75 in adjusted offensive efficiency and they showed us why tonight. After showing initial jitters–five turnovers in its first eight possessions–Troy settled down about halfway through the first half. After trailing by 15 early, the Trojans calmed down and ran their offense well–hitting five straight shots during one stretch–to close to within seven before Duke spurted again. In the end, Troy couldn’t get enough of its threes to fall as they ended the game shooting 5-for-23 from deep.
  3. Defensive consistency is still a concern for the Blue Devils. There were several stretches in the game where the Trojans scoring rather easily, particularly on the interior. That remains the biggest question for Duke going forward. Good offensive teams often have their way with Duke in the paint. Harry Giles did not build upon his impressive performance last week at the ACC Tournament as he was scoreless and committed two fouls in four first half minutes. For Duke to survive off-shooting nights in the future, they will need more from him.

Player of the Game. Jayson Tatum, Duke. Tatum once again showed that he is playing at an All-American level right now. He did a little bit of everything tonight–scoring 18 points, grabbing a game-high 12 rebounds, snatching four steals and blocking four shots.

Quotable.

  • “They can score the ball. All their kids can score.” – Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski praising Troy’s offense.
  • “We’re a good defensive team. But we aren’t a great defensive team.” – Krzyzewski, when asked about the defensive progress of this year’s Duke team.
  • “We fought back. Our guys showed no fear today.” – Troy coach Phil Cunningham, on how his squad was able to rally from a big early deficit.
  • “My job is to give energy. I’m coming in to explode.” – Duke’s Grayson Allen, on his role of coming off the bench.

Sights and Sounds. Duke is probably facing the most difficult environment for any high seed in this year’s NCAA Tournament. Not only do they face a potential second round match-up with South Carolina in the Gamecocks’ home state, but the Blue Devils also have to deal with many rival North Carolina fans here as well. If the Gamecocks are Duke’s opponent on Sunday, the building will be very hostile toward the Blue Devils.

What’s Next? Duke advances to the Second Round on Sunday where it will face the winner of #7 South Carolina and #10 Marquette.

Brad Jenkins (270 Posts)


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