clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Duke Falls On The Road To Louisville

Another loss for the struggling Blue Devils

NCAA Basketball: Duke at Louisville
Jan 23, 2021; Louisville, KY, USA; Duke Blue Devils guard Jeremy Roach (3) brings the ball up against Louisville during a NCAA basketball game at the KFC Yum! Center.
Courier Journal-USA TODAY Sports

When you’re on a roll, good things happen. The rim is kind, the 50/50 calls go your way, you find a way to finish.

Duke isn’t on a roll right now. The rim was unkind Saturday afternoon in Louisville, the 50/50 calls did not go Duke’s way and the Louisville Cardinals were the team that finished, specifically an 8-2 closing surge than overcame a Duke lead and resulted in a 70-65 Louisville victory.

The loss was Duke’s third straight and drops the Blue Devils to 3-3 in the ACC, 5-5 overall.

Louisville moves to 5-2 and 10-3.

Duke had their chances. And that’s an understatement. The Blue Devils missed three wide-open 3s in the final 34 seconds, each of which would have tied the game or given Duke the lead.

“The last two games we would have been fortunate to win,” Mike Krzyzewski, “ although we would had chances to win. This game our kids were prepared, they played hard, they played winning basketball.”

.But so did Louisville, especially guard Carlik Jones, a transfer from Radford who dominated down the stretch.

Jones scored Louisville’s last nine points, fouling out Duke’s Matt Hurt in the process.

Jones sliced up Duke’s man-to-man, found holes in Duke’s zone and kept getting to the foul line. He hit of 11-of-12 from the line, three more attempts that the entire Duke team could muster.

Wendell Moore was one of a number of Blue Devils who tried to control Jones.

“Carlik’s a really good player. He came from Radford as one of the best grad-student transfers in the country and kind of showed us he’s been in tough games, he’s been in tough situations. He’s good enough to make those plays . . . He’s going to get a couple of calls going his way. We can’t do anything about that. We just have to do our best to stay in front, to keep him out of the paint.”

Duke avoided that catastrophic start and the entire game was played within two possessions. Jalen Johnson and Moore earned starts after Duke’s close loss to Pittsburgh Tuesday night. But Johnson took a huge step back. Johnson scored Duke’s first five points but also turned it over four times in the first nine minutes.

“We turned it over too much to start the game,” Krzyzewski acknowledged. “He didn’t play well tonight,” Krzyzewski added on Johnson. “He could never get out of it. We’ve got to figure that out. Human beings, you’re not going to play well all of the time. But if you can correct whatever you’re doing not as well while the game is going on, that is a key thing. And we were not able to do that.” Johnson wasn’t the only freshman who struggled. Jeremy Roach put up a goose egg, 26 scoreless minutes, with two assists, two turnovers and four fouls.

Matt Hurt kept Duke in the game offensively, with some help from D.J. Steward. Hurt scored 15 first-half points, a 3-pointer putting Duke up 19-16, a 2-pointer putting Duke up 28-27 and another 3 cutting the Louisville lead to a point, at 34-33. Louisville got the final basket and went into halftime up 36-33.

Hurt scored five points early in the second half, giving Duke a 40-37 lead.

But the Cardinals put muscular 6-5 guard David Johnson on Hurt and helped him out with an extra defender, daring somebody else in a Duke jersey to make them pay.

Louisville won the dare.

“He was running the post every time I was in the post,” Hurt said of Johnson, “their back-side help, they did a good job. . . . just got to learn from it.”

Hurt didn’t score for 12 minutes as Louisville regained the lead. Steward and Jordan Goldwire knocked down 3s to keep it close.

Steward made two foul shots to put Duke up 63-62, with 2:07 left.

But Hurt was playing with four fouls and Louisville coach Chris Mack went after Hurt. Jones split the Duke defense. Both Hurt and Goldwire fouled Jones but the whistle singled out Hurt, sending him to the bench.

“We said just keep playing hard,” Krzyzewski said, after losing Hurt. “Run motion and get somewhere on your penetration.”

This was Johnson’s chance to take over and led Duke to the victory. He scored inside off the dribble to give Duke its final lead, at 65-64 but was called for a charge on the next possession, that 50/50 call that helps decide games.

Then came the misses from downtown.

Joey Baker had an open look with Duke down 66-65, with 34 seconds left.

He missed.

“I feel so bad for Joey,” Krzyzewski said, “because he’s worked so hard. You’re down by one and he’s got the shot he’s dreamed of and worked hard for and it’s in-and-out.”

After Jones extended the lead to three from the line. Duke had two more chances to tie from beyond the arc. Moore missed badly but Duke got it back and Steward had an open-3 rim out.

“We executed the game plan pretty well,” Moore said, “We played really hard I feel like for the first time this season. Sometimes the ball doesn’t bounce your way.”

Hurt says enough good things happened for Duke to build on.

“We’ve just to keep working. We’ll watch film tomorrow, practice tomorrow. Just learn from our mistakes. At the end of the day, we want wins.”

“I’m disappointed for these kids because they’re a good group,” Krzyzewski summed up. “It’s been a really tough year for a whole bunch of reasons so you’d like to see them get rewarded.”


Hurt ended with 24 points and eight rebounds, both game highs; Jones matched Hurt’s 24 points, Jones matched his eight rebounds. But Steward was the only other Blue Devil in double figures, with 13 points. Duke turned it over 15 times, had only seven assists and lost the battle of the boards 34-26.

But one ugly stat stood out, a common stat of late. Duke went to the foul line nine times, making seven. Louisville went to the foul line 24 times and made 18.

“We have to not foul as much,” Krzyzewski said. . . . It’s kind of crazy. . . we have to evaluate that.”

We have to go back to 1983 to find the last time Duke was at or below .500 in January. Even that ill-fated 1995 team ended January at 10-9, losing that memorable double-overtime game to UNC on February 2 to drop to 10-10.


Player of The Game vs. Louisville

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    Jalen Johnson
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    Wendell Moore
    (1 vote)
  • 85%
    Matthew Hurt
    (248 votes)
  • 1%
    DJ Steward
    (3 votes)
  • 1%
    Jeremy Roach
    (4 votes)
  • 4%
    Henry Coleman
    (14 votes)
  • 1%
    Jaemyn Brakefield
    (4 votes)
  • 2%
    Joey Baker
    (7 votes)
  • 2%
    Jordan Goldwire
    (6 votes)
289 votes total Vote Now