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Duke Runs Over South Carolina State 103-62

An easy win but with some lingering issues

South Carolina State v Duke
DURHAM, NC - DECEMBER 14: Jeremy Roach #3 of the Duke Blue Devils looks to pass the ball to teammate Paolo Banchero #5 while defended by Edward Oliver-Hampton #14 of the South Carolina State Bulldogs during the second half at Cameron Indoor Stadium on December 14, 2021 in Durham, North Carolina.
Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

Duke came off its two-week exam break with a 103-62 win over a game but badly over-matched South Carolina State team. Bulldogs coach Tony Madlock is in the his first season there and what ever he’s going to build at the Orangeburg campus, he hasn’t had a chance to build it yet.

The game was over at halftime, with Duke in charge 60-27. Truth be told it was over long before then.

Or maybe not. Mike Krzyzewski said four of his starters had exams last night until 10 o’clock. It’s a young team and it’s easy for a young team to lose focus and take things for granted.

Mike Krzyzewski praised his team for not allowing that to happen.

“Coming off exams for us, I was very pleased with the intensity that we played at, the speed. These last two weeks we really didn’t get a lot of practice time. It’s intense really, the academics. I think we did okay academically. Tonight I thought we reacted well to it.”

A.J. Griffin was one of the freshmen facing college exams for the first time.

“It was definitely a challenge. It’s school. You’ve got to find a way to get it done, lock yourself in a study room and get it done.”

Bates Jones is a grad-student transfer from Davidson. He knows the deal and says he was a resource for his younger teammates, constantly telling them to “get it done early. Don’t wait until the last minute. Get it under control.”

Back to the game.

Duke never trailed. The game was deadlocked once, at six apiece. It was still somewhat close at 9-8 and SC State even had a chance to go ahead. But they missed a 3-pointer. That happened a lot. They were 1-11 from beyond the arc in the opening half.

Duke was far from perfect, nine first-half turnovers the primary culprit. And Duke only had two offensive rebounds in the first half.

Then again, you can’t grab offensive rebounds if you don’t miss shots. Duke was 18 for 29 from the field, 8 for 11 from 3-point range and 16 for 17 from the line in the first half. Wendell Moore (11), Paolo Banchero (10) and Trevor Keels (10) all scored in double figures in the first half.

Perhaps most importantly Duke assisted on 13 of their made 18 field goals.

Trevor Keels had 10 of his 14 points in the first half and said that Duke’s good shooting was a direct result of “spacing and movement.”

Duke’s improvement in that area was no accident. The coaches felt that Duke’s offense was stagnant and lacking movement in the second half of the Ohio State game and needed to fix that.

“Watching film against Ohio State in the second half, we were just standing,” Keels acknowledged.

Griffin agreed.

“Just playing off the ball. That was one of our weaknesses [against Ohio State]. Just ball watching. We came in wanting to get 25 assists and just share the ball and play as a team. When you see an open guy, it’s a great feeling hitting a guy and seeing the shot go in for your teammate.”

Krzyzewski took his foot of the pedal in the second half. Banchero, Moore and Keels all played around seven minutes in the second half.

But that doesn’t mean Duke didn’t do some things that should help them down the line. Building depth is a priority and it became even more of one when it was announced that Theo John would miss tonight’s game with back tightness. No timetable for his return. But Krzyzewski said John was getting better.

Duke’s reserves played much of the second half and several made the most of it. Joey Baker ended with 13 points and 5 rebounds and Jaylen Blakes got 19 valuable minutes.

But two reserves stood out. Bates Jones is 6-8, 220, not an ideal size for a center. But with John out, he could be an option there. Jones had 7 points, 3 rebounds and 5 assists in 15 minutes, most at the center spot.

“I worked a little more with the bigs in practice,” Jones said.

Those five assists?

“They were throwing some zone at us, so the guy in the middle of the zone typically gets some good chances to make some assists.”

“I thought Bates really helped us a lot,” Krzyzewski said.

And then there was Griffin, who led everyone with 19 points, hitting 7 of 8 from the field, 3 of 4 from beyond the arc, a couple of freebies, along with 4 rebounds and 4 assists.

“A.J.’s been coming along,” Krzyzewski said. “These last two weeks, he’s really gotten a lot of individual work. He’s making up for time lost. It’s just a matter of him continuing to work. I thought Bates and A.J. really took some steps up today.”

Duke ended up with six players scoring in double figures, eight players with at least seven points. Duke didn’t get those 25 assists but they came close, 23 assists on 33 made field goals. Banchero (6), Jones and Griffin combined for 15 of those assists.

“I’m not sure you’d call Paolo or A.J. post players,” Krzyzewski said. “They’re just players so they get a chance to play all over the court. Paolo was really looking for people in the time he was in. A number of his came in transition where he gets that run and because of his height, he can pass it.”

Duke ended shooting 56 percent from the field, the same on 3-pointers (15-27) and 92 percent (22-24) from the line.

And yes, Michael Savarino was back on the floor, playing almost five minutes at the end of the game.

“Obviously, we don’t condone what happened,” Krzyzewski said. “But there are a lot of things that happen to kids on campus that we wouldn’t condone. But it happens. You don’t sell them down the river. The only way you get better is by acknowledging that you did something wrong, accepting the punishment and learning from it.”


Player Of The Game vs. South Carolina State

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    Wendell Moore
    (7 votes)
  • 3%
    Paolo Banchero
    (13 votes)
  • 1%
    Mark Williams
    (7 votes)
  • 0%
    Jeremy Roach
    (3 votes)
  • 2%
    Trevor Keels
    (10 votes)
  • 4%
    Keenan Worthington
    (17 votes)
  • 68%
    AJ Griffin
    (250 votes)
  • 4%
    Joey Baker
    (16 votes)
  • 6%
    Bates Jones
    (22 votes)
  • 0%
    Spencer Hubbard
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    Jaylen Blakes
    (1 vote)
  • 4%
    Michael Savarino
    (17 votes)
365 votes total Vote Now