Mike Krzyzewski added another landmark to his resume Saturday night, his 1000th win at Duke, this one 99-69 over a traveling-caravan from Utah Valley University. It wasn’t as easy as the final score suggests. The Wolverines, whose roster contains no fewer than 14 transfers—no, that’s not a typo—had a double-digit lead in the second half last night against Kentucky and led Duke for much of the game’s first eight minutes, several four-point leads, the last one at 17-13.
“They’re men,” Krzyzewski said of the visitors. “They knocked us back in the first eight minutes. They had six offensive rebounds in the first four minutes. Our guys were grabbing things with one hand. They were just outplaying us.”
Krzyzewski calmed his team down at the second media timeout.
“We talked to our team and told them ‘this is the way it is.’ This isn’t like the other games. This is better. You’ll feel better playing in a game like this. But we have to play this game. But we have to be there in every play. And they responded.”
Duke started getting offensive rebounds, tying the game at 17 on second-chance points by Wendell Carter, Jr. and Marvin Bagley III. Gary Trent, Jr. scored four points, Bagley hit the first three-pointer of his college career and it was 24-17 Duke, an 11-0 run, holding the Wolverines scoreless for three and half minutes.
Trent cited defense as the key.
“It was defense. Our defense got us going. They hopped on us pretty hard and we weren’t ready for that. Coach told us we had to be ready to go, so we started playing great defense and that led to great offense.”
Krzyzewski cited Carter’s four blocked shots as a key to the run.
Trevon Duval picked up two quick fouls, going to the bench barely four minutes into the game.
For more than a few teams, he would have sat until intermission.
That’s not Krzyzewski’s style.
“I’ve never been a proponent of get-two-fouls-and-you-sit. If you that, I’m going to try to get two fouls on your best player. Guys have to learn how to play, the discipline of playing and if they do get a third foul in the first half, we can teach that.”
Lesson learned, Duval said.
“Coach told me you have to learn how to play with fouls. I had to learn how to play smart, just try to move my feet and not use my hands because those first two, I was using my hands.”
Duval got back in and keyed Duke’s fast break, as Duke turned turnovers into fast breaks and fast breaks into layups and dunks.
The lead first hit double figures at 31-20, an 18-3 Duke run.
Duke accomplished this without much from Grayson Allen, who also picked up two quick fouls and didn’t score for the first 17 minutes before scoring five points late in the first half.
Duke went into intermission up 48-33, with Bagley and Carter dominating to the tune of 26 points, 14 rebounds, four blocks and three steals.
UVU never really got back into the game in the second half. In fairness, they had to have been exhausted after a road trip that took them from Orem, Utah to Lexington, Kentucky to Durham in a few days.
I suspect there aren’t a lot of direct flights from Orem to Lexington.
But young teams can sometimes take their foot off the gas when things are going well and Duke has so far resisted that temptation. Allen got hot after intermission, while Bagley, Trent and Duval continued to pour it on.
Losing coach Mark Pope played for an NCAA title team in Kentucky and played seven seasons in the NBA. So, he knows something about high-level basketball.
Not his first rodeo.
But he had no trouble praising Duke’s talent, calling Allen and Trent “assassins from the perimeter,” while praising Duval as having “enough savvy to pick and choose his times.”
Duke had 28 fast-break points, 33 points off turnovers.
In words that should strike fear in the hearts of the college-hoops world, Krzyzewski agreed.
“When we get the ball with two hands, we can really change ends well. It reminds me of my teams in the early ‘90s, how quickly they change ends. And they like to pass. And more than one guy can bring it up. With Grayson and Gary, we have the threat of a 3 and the big guys can really run.”
Those early 90’s teams were pretty good, you may recall.
We’ll know more next week, when Duke steps up in class. But the trend lines are promising.
Marques Bolden surprisingly played 12 minutes, with two points, a rebound and two blocks, despite recovering from strep throat.
He said he woke up this morning feeling better than he has in days and decided to give it a shot. Another big body must help against Michigan State.
All five Duke starters scored in double figures, led by the human-highlight reel known as Marvin Bagley, 24 points and 10 rebounds. Allen added 18, Trent 17 and Carter a dozen.
Then there’s Duval, with 15 points, 12 assists and three steals.
And he ended the game with just those two fouls.
“I keep finding open people and they keep hitting shots,” Duval says.
Krzyzewski praised Alex O’Connell’s game off the bench, four points and despite being as skinny as Kenyan marathoner, five rebounds in 14 minutes.
Duke was outrebounded 26 in the first half but won the battle of the boards 20-13 in the second.
You had to be impressed with UVU center Akolda Manyang. A native of the Sudan, Manyang spent two years at a community college in Iowa and season at Oklahoma. The seven-footer had 17 points, 12 rebounds and six assists. Pope said he was one of the best centers in the country and it’s hard to disagree.
The streak of non-ACC home wins now stands at 134, with five non-ACC home games left this season.
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