Duke came out with focus and intensity and took out a game Troy team 87-65.
Duke built a solid lead early and though Troy cut the lead to single digits on a few occasions they never seriously threatened.
That’s not to say they weren’t tough. They were very tough. The Trojans were surprisingly athletic and deserved their spot in the field.
But Duke was clearly better.
The ACC champs shot out to a 12-3 lead and never looked back.
Duke shot well, hitting 46.4% from deep (13-28 overall) and 46.8 overall and never had any serious problems although getting Amile Jefferson and Harry Giles in first half foul trouble was not ideal. Jefferson finished with eight points and six boards.
Troy understandably focused on Luke Kennard and managed to hold him to eight points on 3-12 shooting.
But Grayson Allen was ready and hit 6-10 (5-9 from three point range) for 21 points.
More important though was the play of Jayson Tatum.
The freshman clearly came to play. Tatum’s line: 18 points, 12 rebounds, four blocks, four steals and just one turnover.
He’s getting better at an dizzying pace.
After his late-season slump, Matt Jones shrugged his shooting woes off, hitting 5-7.
While watching the game it sure didn’t seem to us like Troy shot 5-23 from three point range. It was pretty clear, to us anyway, that this is a very dangerous offensive team.
Duke won the battle of turnovers, forcing 17 and coughing it up just eight times. The bigger Devils surprisingly lost the battle of the backboards, 37-36.
However as we have always said, turnovers are rebounds denied, or, in a new term, we like to call them prebounds.
Add the prebounds to the rebounds and Duke wins that battle 53-44.
Troy hung around a long time but never really threatened and at the end of the game, when Javin DeLaurier lost the ball on a fast break only to see it go in anyway, well, it just sort of fit the evening pretty well.
Small points: Antonio Vrankovic is not really where he needs to be but his aptitude for the game is pulling ahead of his physical maturity. This happened for Mike Dunleavy too. Remember he was incredibly skinny as a freshman but you couldn’t keep him off the court. Vrankovic is not in that league yet but he’s become a reliable presence when the other big guys have issues and he was again in this game.
One minor area of cancern was foul shots: Duke hit just under 70% (16-23). It didn’t matter here but it might in a game which is closer at the end.
All in all though it was really good to see Kennard struggle and not have it affect Duke’s overall play. The Blue Devils look ready for Sunday’s game, whether it’s South Carolina or Wojo’s Marquette.
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