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Duke Wraps Up Canada Trip With A Romp Past McGill

An easy win over a very solid Canadian team.

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Duke Blue Devil
PITTSBURGH, PA - MARCH 15: The Duke Blue Devils mascot, Blue Devil attends the game against the Iona Gaels during the first round of the 2018 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at PPG PAINTS Arena on March 15, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

After a tight first quarter, Duke blew out McGill, 103-58. Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett had solid games again, but they weren’t the only ones.

Williamson finished with 36 points, 14 rebounds, four steals, three assists and two blocks.

Barrett finished with 20 points and ten assists.

The real news though was that the team, or at least the guys who could play, began to find themselves as a group. Pretty much everyone, with the exception of Marques Bolden, played better Sunday.

Take Jordan Goldwire for instance. He had a couple of bad moments where he tried for the spectacular, but in general he was alert, handled and passed the ball well, hit some nice shots and played good defense.

Javin DeLaurier defended well, as he usually does (which is going to get him minutes), and showed that he was willing to dive for balls even in an exhibition game. He’s becoming more and more important to this team.

Jack White was smart and showed well on both ends of the court. Justin Robinson, who like his dad has continued to grow in college (he’s now 6-10), defended well and, as he always does, played hard. Joey Baker continues to play hard and shoot well and Antonio Vrankovic, who started, gave Duke a steady presence inside. We’ve always thought he had good hands and that his problems were with his legs. He’s never going to be a high-jumping, fast breaking sort of player but he has really worked hard to remake his body and it’s paid off. He doesn’t have to score a lot with this group. He just has to rebound and defend and keep the younger guys focused.

McGill played very well in the firs half and in particular in the first quarter. Alex Paquin was particularly impressive. The 6-0 guard, who started at American before transferring back home, hit some frankly dazzling shots. He’s really good.

However, like the offense, Duke’s defense has improved tremendously. The Blue Devils put a lot more pressure on the passing lanes and ultimately wore a tough McGill squad down, going on a big run right after the half.

McGill played with immense discipline and skill, but there is a point where talent overcomes that and the talent gap between Duke and McGill is pretty significant.

It’s not just Williamson and Barrett either, as lavishly gifted as those two are. Vrankovic and Robinson would be factors on McGill, as would Goldwire. Duke just has far more talent. When you see guys like Goldwire, Vrankovic, DeLaurier and Robinson busting their butts, you’re talking about a culture built on hustle and communication. Those guys are leading the younger guys even though the younger guys are more dominant talents. The returnees, in some ways, may be the key to this year’s success.

Duke looked really good against McGill and showed a lot of team unity and heart, but it’s worth remembering that they played without Alex O’ Connell (just three minutes in Canada due to a facial injury), point guard Tre Jones and all-around talent (and we do mean all around, as in all around the court) Cam Reddish.

What you see in August is not what you will see in November.

What we think you did see though was what may become the defining characteristic of this team and that’s a desire, best exemplified by Barrett and Williamson, to be unselfish.

Barrett has had to score this trip because Duke has been short handed, but 10 assists is a good day’s work for anyone. Both guys are willing to let someone else score if it’s better for the team, and that generosity is going to be returned. There don’t appear to be any selfish players on the team which is great and the chemistry seems to be outstanding.

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