Wendell Moore’s triple-double led Duke to an 82-56 win over Army Friday night, Duke’s regular-season home opener.
The game was nowhere near as one-sided as the score suggests. Duke never trailed. But the lead was single digits, at 51-42, midway through the second half, before Duke’s superior talent and athleticism wore down the visitors.
Deep down, we knew it was going to be a slog. Army is too smart, too disciplined to get into a track meet with Duke. But Army pushed the ball when the opportunity arose and 11 Duke turnovers gave them opportunities. Duke was sloppy at times, some of that no doubt due to a Tuesday game at Madison Square Garden that didn’t end until midnight or so.
“I did not think we were strong with the ball,” Mike Krzyzewski said. “I thought we passed and stood. We didn’t have the verve I would have liked. You could say we got back at 4:30 in the morning on Wednesday and had a big game and you’re right. But you’ve got to be able to handle that.”
And Army has some talent, especially sophomore point guard Jalen Rucker (19) and senior wing Josh Caldwell (16) who combined for 35 of Army’s 56 points.
But Duke countered with four double-figure scorers, led by Moore who stuffed the stat sheet to the tune of 19 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists and a couple of steals.
This was Duke’s fifth triple-double. The first four were by Art Heyman, Gene Banks, Shelden Williams (points, rebounds, blocks) and R.J. Barrett, all All-Americans.
Pretty good company.
For the record, Moore said he had no idea he was near a triple-double.
“From day one this year, he’s been really good,” Krzyzewski said. “You don’t get to see him every day. He’s just a really good basketball player. He’s our leader. He’ll do anything that we need to have done.”
“Obviously, it feels really good,” Moore responded, “I was just going out there hooping.”
But Krzyzewski said that Moore still hasn’t put the cramps problem behind him and Duke has a quick turnaround.
Lots of fluids on the schedule. Lots.
Moore’s final assist led to a Paolo Banchero dunk, the final two of Banchero’s 18 points. Banchero added 12 rebounds, his first Duke double-double, but almost certainly not his last.
Duke opened the first half with 10-0 run and closed the half with an 8-0 run.
About what we expected. But in between the Black Knights took it to the Blue Devils, forcing turnovers and competing on the glass in a physical contest. In fact they responded to that opening 10-0 dagger with a 9-0 run of their own.
“For us every game should be a big game,” Moore said. “I felt like we didn’t come out that way tonight.”
Was 10-0 too easy?
“I don’t really know what it was. We’re up 10-0, we’ve got to go 12-0, 14-0. We can’t let them come back into the game.”
Moore ended the surge with a steal and dunk and Banchero followed with a 3-point play off an offensive rebound and it was 15-9.
Army never again got closer than five points. Moore scored five of Duke’s final eight points in the opening half, as Duke went into the locker room up 38-25.
Still, Army kept hanging around. Banchero was the only Blue Devil to score in the opening five minutes of the second half and Army closed to 42-34.
Joey Baker ended the slide with a 3-pointer off a scrum under the Duke basket.
“Coach always talks about free points off an offensive rebound. I knew once I got that look, it had to go up. I shot with confidence.”
Then Jeremy Roach took over. Roach didn’t do much in the first 30 minutes. But Krzyzewski credited Roach with helping to break it open.
“I thought in the second half, especially in that period of time when the lead went from like, 10 or 11 and all of a sudden it’s 17. He made really big plays for us.”
Roach hit a 3 to make the score 56-42, another to make it 59-44, a layup for 67-51, two foul shots for 69-53.
He ended with 14 points and four assists.
Duke may have been stagnant at times on offense but defense was something else. Duke forced 21 turnovers, with 14 steals that Duke turned into 19 transition points; Trevor Keels had six steals to go along with 10 points. Army shot 39 percent from the field.
“I think with the combination of Jeremy, Trevor and myself, we have one of the best perimeter defenses that there is in the country,” Moore said. “Most teams are going to have a hard time beating us.”
“Overall, good,” Krzyzewski summed up. “For four of these kids it was their second college game, first home game. Still, a lot to learn. Overall I thought we played really good defense.”
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- BOX SCORE (PDF)
- POSTGAME NOTES (PDF)
- COACH K QUOTES (PDF)
- DUKE PLAYER QUOTES (PDF)
- OPPONENT QUOTES (PDF)
- PHOTO GALLERY
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Player Of The Game vs. Army
This poll is closed