You don’t tug on Superman’s cape.
You don’t spit in the wind.
And you don’t try to punk Zion Williamson.
Seriously, what was Mustapha Herron thinking?
It’s no surprise that visiting St. John’s tried to get all physical with Duke. That’s what Big East teams do.
But Williamson and his teammates matched every blow and then some, breaking open a close game right before halftime and pulling away for a 91-61 victory. Williamson keyed the win with 29 points, including Duke’s last 10 first-half points.
The win moves Duke to 19-2 and the loss drops St. John’s to 16-6.
Duke jumped to a 12-5 lead but St. John’s stayed alive, converting second-chance points to hang close.
Mike Krzyzewski took off his coat and got fired up.
Krzyzewski declined to tell the media what he told his team but R.J. Barrett gave some hints.
“He just told us we need to fight and when coach gets animated like that, we feed off of it.”
Marques Bolden agreed that Duke was ready to meet the St. John’s physicality.
“We needed to throw the first punch. We knew coming into the game that they were going to be physical and we just needed to stay consistent and not feed into anything.”
With Duke up 23-21, Cam Reddish was fouled hard going to the basket, hard enough for a flagrant foul to be assessed against Marvin Clark II.
“It was a very physical game,” Williamson said. “But that’s just basketball. You can’t really cry about it or anything. You’ve just got to play through it. For me, it was when Cam went up for a layup and got fouled really hard and I said ‘alright, it’s going to be that kind of game.’ “
Then there was the out-of-bounds play where Herron got in Williamson’s face and tried to body him up. Williamson slapped away Herron’s hands with enough force for the referees to step in and tell them to cut it out.
Williamson took over after that, a 3-pointer putting Duke up 28-23, a steal and dunk for 31-25, then that 10-points-in-two-minutes burst, another steal and dunk sending Duke into the locker room up 47-37.
“It wasn’t a 10-point game but it was because of that spurt,” Krzyzewski said.
Williamson ended the half with 19 points.
But he wasn’t the whole story. St. John’s’ guard Shamorie Ponds lit up Duke last year for 33 points.
But Tre Jones wasn’t on that Duke team. Jones hounded Ponds into a nightmare first half, no points, five turnovers.
“We were able to come out extremely strong today, unlike last week,” Jones said. “So, we knew we had to come out strong and shut down their key players. I knew that was a big match up. I had to come out strong and set the tone for the entire team.”
“We told him [Ponds] that the kid (Tre) Jones, that’s what he does,” Chris Mullin said. “If you’re confused and careless with that shot, he’ll expose you, so that was part of it. I think a few times he got free runs to the basket and didn’t look like he had a good hand on the ball, and a few of the layups that he usually makes, his dexterity just wasn’t locked in.”
Duke ended the first half on a roll and started the second half the same way.
“We were able to put a run together and really change momentum and give us a boost,” Jones said. “And we were able to carry that over into the second half and keep rolling.”
St. John’s pulled Ponds off the ball, letting Justin Simon doing the work. Ponds got on the board with two foul shots, for 47-39. But Duke ran off 16 straight and the rout was on.
“Once we started defensive rebounding in the second half, we kind of blew it open,” Krzyzewski said. Duke out-rebounded the visitors 29-14 in the second half.
Krzyzewski praised big men Bolden and Javin DeLaurier for defending on screens outside the paint. This left the perimeter players to take up the rebounding slack. Barrett grabbed 12 of his 14 rebounds on defense, while Jones grabbed five of his seven rebounds on defense.
“Coaches have been talking a lot about rebounds,” Jones said. “We’ve been giving up way too many offensive rebounds and we’ve all been trying to get inside and rebound more.”
“The big men were out there helping Tre, so I just got a lot of rebounds,” Barrett added.
Duke held St. John’s to 24 points in the second half, the Red Storm shooting 7-for-32 after intermission.
“It was an outstanding defensive game,” Krzyzewski said. “we kept it up for a full 40 minutes. Tre’s pressure on the ball was outstanding and our two big guys did a great job of defending the ball screen. He [Jones] understands the value of his defense. If he’s doing his job, our guys will be able to do more. He’s as good as anybody on defense in the country.”
Williamson got his 29 points by hitting 13-of-17 from the field. Reddish (16), Barrett (15), Jones (13) and Bolden (10) joined him in double figures.
Williamson has scored at least 22 points in Duke’s last six games, averaging 27.3 per game for that span.
Reddish hit 4-of-10 three-pointers, three of the makes coming in the first six minutes.
Jones had seven assists but a career-high five turnovers. He’s at 107 assists, 23 turnovers for the season.
L.J. Figueora led St. John’s with 14 points. Ponds ended with 11.
Jordan Goldwire made his first 3-pointer of the season, after starting off 0-for-15
And the non-ACC home winning streak goes into hibernation at 147, awaiting another year of spoilers.
- No. 2 Duke whips St. John’s; Zion Williamson scores 29
- Analyst Names ‘Perfect’ NBA Fits For Duke’s Big 3
- Duke’s Zion Williamson on playing with Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving on the Knicks
- A pumped-up Coach K, a locked in Tre Jones and Zion doing Zion things equal an easy Duke win
- Tre Jones on his solid defense against Shamorie Ponds
- Duke vs. St. John’s score: Zion Williamson has arguably his best game ...
- ESPN’s College GameDay is coming for Virginia-Duke Basketball
- Zion Williamson, Duke show St. John’s how far it is from nation’s elite
- Zion Williamson sparks 26-6 run as Duke men’s basketball storms past St. John’s
- Zion Williamson dominates on both ends as Duke routs St. John’s
- Williamson, No. 2 Duke Rout St. John’s 91-61
- MBB: Coach K Postgame Press Conference - St. John’s
- Box Score (PDF)
- From the Boards: Post Game discussion, Advanced stats, and Plus/Minus
Player Of The Game vs. St. John’s
This poll is closed
Alex O’ Connell