What Went Right:
*- Everything else aside, this team played with the kind of fire and desire that hasn’t been seen since the days of Duke, really began beating the Horns in pretty much every category, including the scoreboard.
However, Williams wasn’t the only Blue Devil Buckman went after with physical play. He also worked on Shavlik Randolph who, like Williams, responded with inspired play on both ends of the floor. While both had been very good on the defensive end so far, it was nice to see them going aggressively to the basket and either converting or earning trips to the free throw line.
With the big guys dominating inside, the Blue Devils were all of a sudden a much more dangerous team with Chris Duhon running the offensive show. This was, perhaps, Duhon’s finest game in a Duke uniform as the senior took control early and led his team to a huge win in a big game.
*- The rebounding was superb, when Texas’ ability on the boards was a major concern for Duke coming into the ball game. On the afternoon the Blue Devils out-rebounded their opponents 36-30 including nine boards each from Williams and Randolph, who also were able to put points on the board – Shelden had 14, while Shav added 10.
*- The defense was once again the deciding factor, as it had been in the four straight previous victories. Duke held Texas to just 37 percent shooting (25% in the first half) on the afternoon, while forcing 10 turnovers. However the offense also began to click with Chris Duhon looking to score when it was available and dishing the ball off to teammates who were also playing aggressively on the offensive end of the floor.
*- Perhaps the best news of the day for Duke fans was the breakout shooting performance of J.J. Redick, who hit four of his five three point attempts on the way to 20 points. If Redick begins to knock down his shots, the Blue Devils become a much more dangerous team.
What Went Wrong:
*- Despite their strong play on the interior, Shelden and Shavlik still struggled to convert on the free throw line. Had the game not been out of reach, it could have come back and bitten the Devils. Moving forward, as a Duke fan you have to hope the big guys will be able to convert more than 6-of-14 after getting inside and drawing fouls.
*- Again focusing on the interior, it would be nice to see Luol Deng it may not be crucial in a drive towards late March, but it couldn’t hurt.
*- On the perimeter Duke fans are still waiting for Daniel Ewing to have his breakout game now that Redick has apparently found his stroke again. If the reigning ACC Tournament Most Valuable Player begins to hit his stride and the team continues its rate of improvement, it could be a fun ride in Durham going forward.
Player of the Game:
Chris Duhon has asserted himself as the leader of this young group of Devils, and that was crystal clear today as the senior logged 15 points, nine assists, and just one turnover.
Shelden Williams – 14 points, 9 rebounds, 4 blocks
Shavlik Randolph – 10 points, 9 rebounds,
Chris Duhon – 15 points, 9 assists, 3 rebounds, 3 steals
J.J. Redick – 20 points, six rebounds
After putting together a very impressive five game win streak after losing in Alaska, Duke gets a well deserved break before returning to action against Davidson on December 29th.
In those five games the Devils have averaged a score of 79-53 against two top ten teams and three others. Hopefully the layoff won’t add any rust as Duke heads into the ACC season, which is unusually loaded this year with four of the top ten teams calling the ACC home.