Duke survived a mild mid-game scare to defeat Lafayette 88-55 Friday night to run its record to 5-0.
The loss drops the Leopards to 0-4.
Duke used a 13-0 run to jump to a 21-5 lead. But Lafayette forward Kyle Jenkins willed his team back into the game. The 6-7 sophomore hit a 2 to make it 23-12, a 3 to make it 23-15, another 3 to make it 30-20, a layup for 30-24 and another layup to make it 32-27.
He ended the first half with 15 points, hitting 6 of 9 from the field, 3 of 5 from beyond the arc.
Veteran Lafayette coach Fran O’Hanlon—he’s in his 27th year at the Pennsylvania school—said Jenkins “is probably our best player, the most athletic, somebody who can play with those athletes on Duke. He shoots the ball extremely well and he really pulled us through during that tough stretch.”
Mike Krzyzewski said the problem was Duke’s transition defense.
“Jenkins got three open 3s and it all had to do with ‘man, I should have hit that shot.’ No, you should run down the court and play defense. Our offense effected our defense. What we were doing in that time period, we were coming down in the middle of the court and their team was fanning out and we were making close-outs instead of coming along the outside lanes where they were running and they took advantage of it.”
Trevor Keels closed the first-half scoring with a 3-pointer but a 35-27 lead isn’t what Duke was expecting after that opening 11 minutes.
Still, other than losing Jenkins, there was a lot to like about the opening stanza. Duke forced 13 turnovers, while committing only 4 and held everyone other than Jenkins to 5 for 19 shooting.
But Duke struggled to finish against Lafayette’s zone and Krzyzewski said Duke let its offensive woes carry over to the defensive side of things.
“We had some good looks—again they were playing good defense-but even around the bucket [we couldn’t score] and we fell into that trap that can happen to basketball players and teams when you let that influence the next play where you’re not thinking or talking on defense.”
The second half didn’t start much better. Lafayette scored, Duke turned it over and Lafayette center Neal Quinn went to the line with a chance to cut the lead to four.
This is when it began to fall apart for the visitors.
“We had a chance to cut it to four with a couple of foul shots,” O’Hanlon said. “But we didn’t get it done and they kinda went on a huge spurt there and we kind of lost our poise.”
Huge spurt indeed. No surprise that Wendell Moore keyed that surge. Paolo Banchero hit a 3 and Mark Williams scored inside after those missed foul shots. But the visitors also scored and it was 40-31 when Williams grabbed a defensive rebound and hit Moore with an outlet pass. Moore beat the defensive down the floor, scored, drew the foul and hit the freebie. Then a pull-up jumper, then a 3 in transition and it was 48-34 and O’Hanlon was calling for a timeout.
Eight points for Moore in a span of about a minute-forty.
“We got two or three stops in a row,” Moore said “which allowed me to get out in transition and kind of make plays, which is what I really feel like I do best. All of those were open shots because my teammates were able to find me.”
Moore also helped shut down Jenkins, who went scoreless in the second half until a 3-pointer that made it 76-50, with 5:52 left.
Those would be his only second-half points.
“Like coach said, he was getting a lot of open shots in transition. We were letting our offense effect our defense and it caused us not to get back on defense. We locked in in the second half and made it a lot tougher for him to get the shots he wanted.”
“Number 14 is good,” Krzyzewski said he told his team at halftime. “Find him in transition.”
Moore ended with a game-high 23 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and only a single turnover.
But he had help. Williams dominated inside with 14 points, 15 rebounds and 4 blocks. Krzyzewski went out of his way to praise one second-half sequence in which Williams missed in traffic twice before finishing with an over-the-head dunk.
“That one play for Mark, I’ll call it persistence where he tried and tried and just dunked it, that was a great play for him because he fought through that adversity.”
“Coach Carrawell and I talked about rebounding and just being persistent on the offensive glass,” Williams said, “and that was just an example of that, just being aggressive and being strong with the ball.”
And then there was A.J. Griffin. Time will tell if his performance was a break-out game or an outlier for the freshman but for the record Griffin put together a 21-minute masterpiece off the bench, 18 points, 2 rebounds, 2 steals, 7 for 10 from the field, 4 for 6 from 3-point range.
Griffin said he could see it coming in practice and Moore confirmed that.
“To have a top-five player in the country out of high school come off the bench, that’s a huge spark. When he comes off the bench, he can do it all. He can defend 1 through 4 and score. He’s such a great player.”
Banchero (11 points, 6 rebounds in just under 20 minutes) and Keels (10 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists) gave Duke five double-digit scorers. Jeremy Roach was scoreless but led everyone with five assists.
Walk-ons Stanley Borden and Spencer Hubbard made the first appearances of their Duke careers, Borden looking for all the world like a kid on his birthday who just got the bike he’s been asking for.
Duke is back on the court Monday night against the Citadel before big non-conference tests against Gonzaga and Ohio State. Krzyzewski cited Luka Donic and said he and his staff are trying to instill a mindset that nothing matters except the score.
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- Lafayette vs Duke Men’s Basketball Highlight (2021-22)
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