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Duke Knocks Off Princeton 101-50

The Devils pulled away after a slow start for a big win

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Princeton v Duke
DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA - DECEMBER 18: Marques Bolden #20 of the Duke Blue Devils blocks a shot by Ryan Schwieger #15 of the Princeton Tigers during the second half of their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on December 18, 2018 in Durham, North Carolina. Duke won 101-50.
Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Duke started slowly against Princeton Tuesday night, its first game in 10 days, the first after what Mike Krzyzewski called a “grueling” exam period.

But once Duke flipped the switch, they demolished their Ivy-League foes, blowing open a close game in the middle of the first half and pulling away for an impressive 101-50 win.

Duke struggled on offense for the first eight or so minutes, trailing 8-0 after 3:47, 13-5 after 5:34.

The Blue Devils missed their first eight shots, three on the opening possession. R.J. Barrett was 0-for-5 before the first media timeout.

Then Duke started turning it over, seven times in the first 13 minutes.

“When did the turnover occur,” Krzyzewski noted. “I thought it occurred after, through frustration. It didn’t occur necessarily on the first pass. It occurred after we couldn’t hit and I thought we were making some passes when we didn’t have a good base, just using our arm. But we kept our poise and started valuing the ball.”

“We were playing well,” Zion Williamson said of the slow start, “but our shots just weren’t falling. We were so geeked up to play, so excited to be back in Cameron, it was just a rush. But once we calmed down we started playing our game.”

But Duke never stopped defending. Princeton got some backdoor layups early but Duke adjusted.

“It happened to me twice early in the game,” Williamson said. “I was trying to contest my man too high. I had to really fix that. I dared my man to shoot the 3 and backed off him.”

Krzyzewski praised his defense collectively and individually, specifically citing Barrett’s defense on Devin Cannady and Tre Jones’ defense on Jaelin Llewellyn.

Cannady came into the shooting 35-for-70 on 3s but went 2-for-10 against Duke. Llewellyn had three turnovers, while Reddish hounded Jose Morales into seven turnovers.

And then there were the blocks.

“For the most part, we kept them out of the paint,” Krzyzewski said. “Then when they did get in the paint our big guys came over to take away and blocked a lot of shots, which is what they’re supposed to do and they did it.”

Duke started hitting its shots and cleaned up the turnovers and it was off to the races. Duke tied it at 16 on a Barrett layup and took its first lead at 19-18, on a Cam Reddish 3-pointer.

Then it was 21-18, then an Alex O’Connell 3 made it 24-18, then it was 31-21, then it was over.

Duke ended the first half on a 12-5 run, making it 39-26 at the intermission.

The second half was a clinic.

“They got so many deflections,” Princeton coach Mitch Henderson lamented. “Stuff we haven’t seen before.”

Duke had 10 blocks and seven steals in the second half, turning many of them into fast-break opportunities.

“Coach gave us our game plan,” Jones said. “We know they have shooters. We wanted to take away the three and make them drivers. We weren’t hitting shots but we stayed locked in defensively.”

The lead reached 20 at 48-28, then 32 at 65-33 and just kept getting bigger, peaking at 52.

Duke actually hit the century mark after going scoreless for the first 4:07. Duke outscored Princeton 62-24 in the second half.

It’s not like Krzyzewski tried to run up the score. No Blue Devil played more than Williamson’s 26:21. Duke played 12 players, Princeton played 15.


Duke’s statistical dominance was pervasive. Despite the 0-for-8 start, Duke ended shooting 52.2 percent from the field and 84 percent (21-25) from the foul line, Duke’s best performance of the season from the line. Duke out-rebounded the visitors 50-25, with 14 blocks and a dozen steals. After the sloppy start, Duke ended the game with 11 turnovers, only four in the second half.

Princeton was a woeful 9-for-33 from beyond the arc.

Barrett led everyone with 27 points, hitting 6-for-7 in the second half. Williamson had 17 points and 10 rebounds. O”O’Connell and Jack White had 10 points off the bench, Marques Bolden four blocks, Jones six assists and no turnovers.

Speaking of Jones, he sat out the final 12:30. No problems. Krzyzewski said he wanted to rest Jones for the “big-boy” game against Texas Tech 48 hours from now and Jones says he’s never felt better.

Krzyzewski is quite fond of Madison Square Garden, where Duke and the Red Raiders meet. He says that at 2 or 3 in the morning, the basketball gods play pickup at the Garden, adding Cameron to the list after a moment’s reflection.

Duke is now 10-1, keeping alive a streak of consecutive double-digit win seasons dating back to the Great Depression.

One less thing to worry about.


Player of The Game vs. Princeton

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    Javin DeLaurier
    (4 votes)
  • 61%
    RJ Barrett
    (244 votes)
  • 1%
    Cam Reddish
    (5 votes)
  • 8%
    Zion Williamson
    (34 votes)
  • 6%
    Tre Jones
    (24 votes)
  • 11%
    Jack White
    (46 votes)
  • 2%
    Justin Robinson
    (10 votes)
  • 0%
    Antonio Vrankovic
    (3 votes)
  • 2%
    Marques Bolden
    (11 votes)
  • 2%
    Brennan Besser
    (9 votes)
  • 0%
    Jordan Goldwire
    (2 votes)
  • 1%
    Alex O’ Connell
    (7 votes)
  • 0%
    Mike Buckmire
    (1 vote)
400 votes total Vote Now