clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Duke Downs Elon 72-61

Elon pushed Duke a bit, but the Blue Devils came through win the second half.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

NCAA Basketball: Duke at Elon University
Elon proved tougher than expected for Matt Jones and Duke.
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Duke had a first-half tussle with Elon before bouncing back in the second behind powerful performances by Jayson Tatum, Matt Jones, Amile Jefferson and Luke Kennard.

People are beginning to get an idea of what sort of a player Jayson Tatum is.

The freshman took 22 shots, basically double what he's tried before (12 was his previous high) and hit seven. He also had eight rebounds, three assist, two steals and four blocks.

He's obviously growing more confident.

What’s really impressing us is his overall intelligence for the game. He's blocking shots, rebounding, making steals, defending like a veteran.

He’s a terrific player. Within a couple of weeks, people will be speaking of him as one of the best players in the nation, regardless of class. He’s that good.

He had a wonderful game. For our money though, the best player for Duke in many ways was Jones.

A lot of what he does doesn't show up in box scores. Most people don't track dives on the floor or forcing a ball handler to his weaker hand.

Jones just keeps at it and this year what we’ve really noticed is when teams threaten Duke, he's the guy who steps up with a tire iron and straightens things out.

A metaphorical tire iron thankfully but still effective.

Jones shot 4-6, had six rebounds, five steals an assist and a block. When you watch him though what really matters is when he does those things. He always defends well but increasingly there are times when he steps in to set things right. He’s truly become a special player, one coaches likely rave about and covet.

During the Tennessee state game we realized that we couldn’t remember something happening to Kennard in a very long time (we could be wrong here but even so it says something).

That something is having a shot blocked. Kennard had one blocked against the Phoenix and it was...weird.

You get used to that guy knowing exactly where he is and how much room he has. Seeing him blocked was a bit strange. It underscored his grasp of the game though.

Kennard hit for 21 (7-17/2-4). He also had seven rebounds.

For his part, Jefferson has become a sensational rebounder. After the fourth game of the year, Jefferson became an elite rebounder. Since then he has only missed double digit rebounds three times, including the Elon game.

Jefferson finished with seven in 27 minutes. He also bagged 13 points including, amazingly for a guy who has basically hovered around .500 on the foul line for his Duke career, 9-11 from the free throw line.

Duke brought Frank Jackson, Marques Bolden, Chase Jeter and Harry Giles off the bench.

Pretty solid bench!

Not much production though with only Jackson scoring (seven points).

Grayson Allen started of course but left the court in the first half after the officials reviewed the tape and decided that he kicked Davidson’s Steven Santa Anna intentionally.

And now, after Allen had just about left the kicking controversy behind, the whole business starts up again.

ESPN’s Jason Williams expressed surprise that he was allowed to play again and called for the ACC to suspend him - and he’s a former Blue Devil.

We tried to understand what led him back to this point then realized something pretty basic: it’s impossible to understand someone else’s self-destructive behavior.

Allen had reduced the target on his back; now it’s bigger than ever. He hurt his own reputation, hurt his team and put a bigger target on his back.

He should be bending over backwards to make his growth clear. Instead, this.

It’s really unfortunate and his team will have pay some of the cost.

He did come back to play in the second half (though he didn’t start) but was ineffective.

As for Elon, we realized a couple of Cameron games ago that this was a very well coached team. Nothing has changed: Methany is hugely promising. His team played well enough to beat a much more talented bunch before Duke woke up.

This is another team to keep an eye on . They’re damned good.


Duke hit just 36.5% from the floor but hit 84% from the line including Jefferson’s career free throw performance...the Phoenix had 19 turnovers...the Blue Devils also hit just 25% from three point range with Tatum missing all four of his attempts....

If you're going to shop Amazon please start here and help DBR | Drop us a line