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Jim On Duke-Louisville

Duke showed heart, but still a costly loss

NCAA Basketball: Duke at Louisville
Jan 23, 2021; Louisville, KY, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Wendell Moore Jr. (0) passes the ball away from Louisville Cardinals center Dre Davis (14) during a NCAA basketball game at the KFC Yum! Center. Mandatory Credit: 
Courier Journal-USA TODAY Sports

Here’s what we know after two Duke-Louisville games. We know that Duke doesn’t have an answer for Louisville guard Carlik Jones (25 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists). We also know that Louisville doesn’t have an answer for Duke forward Matt Hurt (37 points, 7 rebounds).

But we also know that the Cardinals twice gave Jones a little more help than Duke gave Hurt. The result Saturday night was an overtime win for Louisville, 80-73, a win that moves the Cardinals closer to an NCAA Tournament berth, while knocking Duke off that proverbial bubble.

The game was a lot like several Duke losses earlier in the season, games where Duke fell behind by a sizeable margin, clawed back into it but couldn’t get the big stops it needed in the final minutes.

The decisive first-half break didn’t come out of the locker room. Duke actually lead by four points twice, at 13-9 and 15-11.

But two things happened for the final 14 minutes of the second half. No Blue Devil other than Hurt could put the ball in the basket with any regularity and Louisville simply mauled Duke on the glass.

Hurt hit 8 of 10 from the field in the first half. His teammates hit 4 of 15. Guards D.J. Steward, Jordan Goldwire and Jeremy Roach missed all eight of their first-half field-goal attempts.

“I think it was a mixture of things Louisville did and a little bit of us,” Wendell Moore said. “At the same time we were getting open shots and some of them just weren’t falling.”

With all the misses, you might think Duke could have kept up on their offensive boards. But Duke was outrebounded 22-11 in the first half and did not grab a single offensive rebound.

“Just not finding a body,” Hurt lamented. “We knew they were going to send 3, 4 guys to the offensive glass and we had to hit them first and in the first half, we didn’t do that. That was a key emphasis and we didn’t do it, so that’s on us.”

Mike Krzyzewski says there was a theme to Duke’s first-half woes.

“Their athleticism and maturity knocked us back. Their perimeter just knocked our young guards back. They did not have the games they’ve had the last couple of weeks.”

Jones scored 7 points and assisted on 2 more in a 5-minute span that turned Duke’s 4-point lead into a 26-19 Louisville lead. Hurt was the only Blue Devil to score in the final 7 minutes of the first half and by the time the teams went to the locker room Louisville was up 36-26. Hurt had 16 of those Duke points.

Krzyzewski called Hurt’s effort “sensational” and “unbelievable.”

Halftime message?

“His message at halftime was we weren’t fighting in the first half and he was right,” Moore said. “We weren’t doing one thing that we had been doing in the last four games to get wins and it showed.”

“Their defense was a lot better than our offense in the first half,” Krzyzewski said. “In the second half we adjusted and did better. I think some of it has to do with the offense being in front of us, where we could help them a little bit.”

Duke began to compete on the boards and get to the line.

Duke caught up at 44-44, fell behind 50-44, went ahead 55-52 on two Hurt freebies. But the Cardinals regrouped and went on 10-2 run to take a 62-57 lead, with just over three minutes left.

Duke went small, with Hurt and Moore the only players taller than 6-2.

“We went to a thing we’ve been working on, the press we put on,” Krzyzewski said, “and it gave us a chance to win really. Our kids did a great job in it. Again, we haven’t practiced it much but it did help us.”

Duke forced David Johnson into back-to-back turnovers and took a 65-64 lead on a pair of Moore foul shots, with 36 seconds left.

Duke was in a comparable situation a week ago against Virginia and got the stop it needed to put it away.

Not tonight. Jones drew a foul on Moore and went to the line with 13 seconds left.

He hit the first foul shot but missed the second.

“We blocked out on the free throw but we’ve got to grab the rebound,” Krzyzewski said. “That would have given us 9 seconds or 10 seconds or whatever it was to push the ball down court. Games boil down to stuff like, that one possession. We won that possession against Virginia but we did not win that possession tonight.”

Virginia didn’t score with that extra possession, which meant an extra period.

One that Louisville dominated. Johnson fouled out late in regulation but his replacement Quinn Slazinksi opened the scoring with a 3-pointer, Duke missed its first two shots, an exhausted Hurt fouled out and that was all she wrote.

The loss drops Duke to 11-9 overall, 9-7 in the ACC. Duke ends the regular season next week with road contests against Georgia Tech and North Carolina, each of whom posted an impressive win today. Of course, that also gives Duke a chance to post two impressive wins next week and a sense of urgency will be required. No more “we need to play hard for 40 minutes.”


Moore was the only Blue Devil to join Hurt in double figures. He scored 13 points, while leading Duke with 9 rebounds. But Duke hit only 4 of 21 from beyond the arc, with freshmen guards Steward and Roach combining for 1 for 9.

Jordan Goldwire scored a single point but led Duke with 6 assists but turned it over 4 times.

Duke outrebounded Louisville in the second half. The final total was 41-33 Louisville. Duke was 17 for 23 from the line, Louisville 16 for 24.

Jones played 44 minutes without a turnover. Jae’lyn Withers supported Jones with 16 points and 9 rebounds, while Samuell Williams added 14 points and a game-high 12 rebounds.

Louisville is 13-5, 8-4 in the ACC.


Player Of The Game vs. Louisville

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    Wendell Moore Jr
    (4 votes)
  • 90%
    Matthew Hurt
    (352 votes)
  • 0%
    Mark Williams
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    DJ Steward
    (3 votes)
  • 1%
    Jordan Goldwire
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    Jaemyn Brakefield
    (3 votes)
  • 2%
    Joey Baker
    (10 votes)
  • 2%
    Jeremy Roach
    (10 votes)
388 votes total Vote Now