A young Duke team gave Kansas a good game, in stretches a dominant game, before the more experienced Jayhawks came back to win 69-64.
Duke’s inexperience showed, especially early and late, when the freshmen often lacked discretion. You saw Kyle Filipowski rushing shots and driving when passing would have worked better, Mark Mitchell bulling his way inside with no plan and three pointers being launched too quickly, resulting in the natural conclusion, lots of misses (3-21).
And as we told you the other day, Gradey Dick has got It. He’s going to be a star in this game.
Duke had sort of shut him down for a while but when he was needed late, he hit three shots in a row, scoring seven points which was a back-breaking stretch. Duke was up by one when he started; when he finished, Duke was down three (Jeremy Roach hit a three in there too).
Duke only scored once more, a layup by Jeremy Roach with :20 left.
Honestly, you know what that brilliant stretch by Dick brings to mind?
When Duke played Texas A&M in the 2013 Chick-Fil-A Bowl, the Blue Devils were in position to win at halftime. Manziel just hit another level when it was needed. On one occasion, he passed while leaping over a teammate - and connected.
Whatever that It is, Dick has it too.
Unlike Dick, at the end of the game, Duke wasn’t ready to step up to the moment. It would have been unusual if they had. A team with so many freshmen and transfers is going to take a while to get it, particularly the freshmen, and particularly if they are critical players as most of Duke’s are.
Nonetheless, there were bright moments for the Blue Devils.
After an erratic start, Filipowski had a terrific game. His inexperience left him with a poor shooting night (6-18), but we saw things in him Duke fans had not yet seen. He went to the basket, he overpowered various Jayhawks inside, and he played with a confidence that was striking.
Filipowski had a star turn against Kansas. He also had a third straight double-double with 17 and 14. He sent a message that he can rough things up, too. The perception of this guy changed Tuesday night.
Tyrese Proctor got going with some beautiful moves and a really nice three. He got Jay Bilas, who said he was an NBA talent, excited.
He’s still erratic, but freshmen, right? You have to be patient.
Dereck Lively played 21 minutes. He had four points, five rebounds and a block. He’s coming on.
Mitchell had good moments here, too. He had one powerful drive and some good defensive plays. He wasn’t as good as he was in the first two games, but this will pay dividends, for him and all the freshmen.
Roach had a good game in several respects, notably stepping up when Duke needed leadership or a key play.
Ryan Young continues to play remarkably smart, heady basketball.
And in other news, in case you missed it, Dariq Whitehead dressed and warmed up.
Keep this in mind about the way this game worked out: despite Lively not being fully up to speed and Dariq Whitehead not playing a minute yet, Duke almost took out the defending national champions.
Give this group a few weeks to be together, healthy, and with a bit more experience - the ceiling is going to be quite high.
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