If I had told you going into Duke’s game with Indiana that Duke would shoot 58.6 percent from the foul line, commit 24 fouls, turn it over 14 times and be out-rebounded by three, you might have expected a rough night.
Think again. Duke used a suffocating defense to put away the Hoosiers in the first half and coast to a 90-69 beat down of a pedigree program.
Duke seemed to get a hand on every Indiana pass, every Indiana dribble in the first half, hounding the visitors into 13 first half turnovers, while blocking three shots.
“We came out flat last game,” Tre Jones acknowledged. “We wanted to come out and just get back to our usual selves. The pressure was part of the game plan. But at the same time, that’s really our game. We pressure the ball a lot and we’ve been doing it all year and we were trying to do it today and get back to playing like ourselves.”
Duke never trailed and it was tied only once, at 2-2. Indiana came into the game shooting 55 percent from the field and turning it over 15 times per game. But Duke forced four turnovers in the first four minutes, while IU missed four shots in a row, as Duke opened up a double-digit lead.
Zion Williamson scored six of Duke’s first 11 points but Jones set the tone with his on-the-ball defense and aggressive offense.
“He’s way ahead,” Mike Krzyzewski said of Jones’s defense. “He’s in that room where Hurley, Wojo, Duhon are as far as on-the-ball pressure. He has such will and determination. He’s way ahead.”
“We were just trying to pressure them,” Jack White adds. “We know they play a half-court defense, so they wouldn’t be used to that kind of pressure in practice, so just deny the pass, get in the passing lanes, make the key guys work to get the ball.”
Krzyzewski cited Duke’s ability to control Romeo Langford and Juwan Morgan, Indiana’s best players. The duo came into the game averaging 36 points per game but Duke held them to 21 and the secondary players aren’t good enough to take up that slack.
Langford was 3-for-15 from the field.
Jones wasn’t just a defender. He hunted his shot, scoring eight points in the first half, even following his own miss with a stick-back.
“They plugged the gaps a lot but that left some open lanes,” Jones says. “I feel like that’s my game. If the defense is giving it to me, I’ve got to be able to take that shot and make it.”
Duke went into the locker room with a 53-29 lead, Williamson with 19 points, R.J. Barrett with 15 points and eight rebounds.
Krzyzewski variously described the second half as “disjointed” and “bleh.” Duke scored four points in the first five minutes of the second half, with five turnovers and four fouls.
But Indiana was just as bad, too bad to eat into the margin.
Still, Krzyzewski was sufficiently concerned to call a timeout, take off his jacket and admonish his team, if admonish is the right word for what his team described as the most angry they’ve seen him.
Krzyzewski said he was upset by the lack of energy from his team, the crowd, even the pep band.
Duke stabilized and the second-half lead never dropped below 19 points.
We did see some unusual combinations down the stretch. Barrett fouled out with 8:44 left. Cam Reddish didn’t foul out but foul trouble held him to 22 minutes. Williamson had second-half cramps, Jones has been bothered by a sore hip.
None of this mattered as Duke ran its record to 6-1, extending its non-ACC home-winning streak to 142 games. Duke is 18-2 in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge and is 7-3 against Indiana.
Williamson led everyone with 25 points. Barrett had 22 points and nine rebounds, Reddish 13 points.
Jones had 15 points, eight assists and no turnovers. He has 41 assists against eight turnovers on the season.
Centers Marques Bolden and Javin DeLaurier combined for a strange stat line, two points, six rebounds, four blocks and four steals.
Krzyzewski strongly defended Barrett against critics of his final minutes against Gonzaga.
“The kid had the guts to do it and probably should have gone to the foul line. And Duke fans, just cut it out, man. These kids aren’t perfect. My kid wasn’t playing hero ball, he was playing winner’s ball. If you don’t like following them, then don’t follow us. I’ll go to war with my guys. He has the heart to do that. . . . If we lose, I’ll lose with them. Let’s get real about this whole thing. Let’s not get spoiled We’ve got four 19-year-old kids trying to bust their ass to learn how to play and there’s a lot of pressure on them. Let them grow.”
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Alex O’ Connell
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