Rushed Reactions: #2 Duke 87, #7 Rhode Island 62

Posted by Walker Carey on March 17th, 2018

RTC will be providing coverage of the NCAA Tournament from start to finish. Walker Carey (@walkerRcarey) is in Pittsburgh this weekend.

Three Key Takeaways.

Rhode Island Had No Answers For Duke Today (Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports)

  1. Duke’s talent advantage was just too much for Rhode Island to overcome. Rhode Island began the game with its hair on fire. The Rams had a distinct pep in their step. That energy allowed them to open a quick 7-2 lead and it certainly got their fans into the swing of things. The energetic start was short-lived though as Duke rapidly exerted both its overwhelming size advantage and definite talent advantage. The Blue Devils make things look easy. Whether it was Grayson Allen and Gary Trent Jr. hitting perimeter shots or Trevon Duval driving the lane or Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter Jr. having their way in the post, Duke’s horses were just way too much to overcome. Whenever it seemed like Rhode Island may have had a bit of a spark that could have led to a little run, the Blue Devils rapidly put that to bed. This game was a total annihilation, but that is known to happen when playing a group as talented as Duke.
  2. The Duke zone continues to create issues for its opponents. The fact that Duke tried running man-to-man for so long with this personnel continues to baffle. It was quite clear early on that the Blue Devils would continue to struggle in man-to-man due to the lack of great individual defenders on their roster. When it finally made the full-time switch to the zone in January, it became obvious that the team’s length and ability to move laterally made it a terrific zone team. Entering today’s action, the Blue Devils ranked eighth in the country in defensive efficiency. That ranking would have been impossible if Duke had made the decision to stick with the man-to-man. Duke’s zone success was on display once again this afternoon, as Rhode Island was held to just 62 points on 39.7% shooting. It should also be noted that a lot of the shots the Rams did make were not exactly open looks.
  3. Today marked the end of quite the run for Rhode Island basketball. The Rams have nothing to hang their heads about. They just ran into a buzz saw today. It can be argued that no one would have bested Duke this afternoon. With the loss, Rhode Island’s season ends and a major chapter of Rams basketball has reached its conclusion. A senior class of E.C. Matthews, Jared Terrell, Stanford Robinson, Andre Berry, and Jarvis Garrett played its final game in a Rhode Island uniform. That class was what brought the Rams back into the national conversation. NCAA Tournament bids and subsequent first round wins – both this year and last – continued that conversation. It must also be noted that there is a good chance coach Dan Hurley will not be back on the Rhode Island sideline next season. The star coach is said to be a strong candidate for both the Connecticut and Pittsburgh openings. No matter if Hurley returns or not, the Rhode Island program will look dramatically different in the 2018-19 season.

Player of the Game. Wendell Carter Jr., Duke. The Blue Devils entered the game with a plan to pound the ball inside as much as possible to take advantage of their dramatic size advantage. Carter Jr. was the beneficiary of that strategy, as he received many open opportunities int he post as Duke continued to build its lead. While Bagley III (22 points and nine rebounds) and Trent Jr. (18 points) also had terrific games, it was Carter Jr. that really established that Rhode Island was going to be in for a long and grueling afternoon.


  • “We played really well today. I thought we played in a mature manner. We were playing a great team – a mature team with a lot of toughness.” – Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, expressing his pleasure with his team’s performance while giving credit to Rhode Island.
  • “We were very active defensively. We knew we were going to have to keep working because Rhode Island has a great offense.” – Duke guard Grayson Allen, commenting on his team’s terrific defensive effort.
  • “They looked like an NBA team out there with their size and length. We just could not find ways to score.” – Rhode Island coach Dan Hurley, discussing how challenging it was to play Duke.

Sights and Sounds. Rhode Island definitely won the Pittsburgh Pod when it came to fan support. It had the largest number of fans and the most vocal group. It was pretty impressive how engaged the group stayed even in the middle of its team getting taken to the woodshed. While it is always great to have a strong backing, there was an incident reported on Twitter regarding a Rhode Island fan being escorted out of the crowd following an incident involving Wendell Carter Jr.’s mother. That is no fun for anyone.

What’s Next? Duke advances to the Sweet 16 where it will pay the winner of Michigan State and Syracuse on Friday night in Omaha.

WCarey (318 Posts)

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