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Duke Powers Past Baylor, 78-70

A beautiful team effort by the Blue Devils

NCAA Basketball: Sentinel One Classic-Baylor at Duke
Dec 20, 2023; New York, New York, USA; Duke Blue Devils guard Jeremy Roach (3) shoots the ball as Baylor Bears guard Ja’Kobe Walter (4) defends during the first half at Madison Square Garden. 
John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Duke got a solid effort from #10 Baylor in Madison Square Garden Wednesday night before pulling away late to win 78-70 in what was probably Duke’s best game of the year.

The Blue Devils started well, pulling away early to a 22-12 lead before Baylor fought its way back into the game, taking the lead at 28-26 on a Dantwan Grimes three.

It looked for a while like Duke might have buckled as it has a couple of times this season, but not here. We got a good glimpse of this team’s potential. It didn't all come at once, but we saw a team with heart and determination, especially when it was most needed.

Baylor got a little bit of separation in the second half when Ja’Kobe Walter hit a three to put Baylor up 48-42 with 14:12 to go. That’s when Duke started to punch back.

Mark Mitchell got a dunk off an impressive Kyle Filipowski assist to cut the lead to 48-44 then, after a RayJ Dennis two, Kyle Filipowski scored six straight to make it 54-50. Then Jared McCain hit a three and Caleb Foster took one to the hole to make it 55-54 and while Baylor would tie it up, Duke never trailed again. And, impressively, Baylor would not hit another shot until there was 1:12 left.

There were a lot of reasons for that, starting with Jeremy Roach. Roach has been playing great.

Even after Filipowski picked up his fourth foul with 7:02 to play, Roach helped Duke stay focused, partly by executing a beautiful pick and roll with Ryan Young to put Duke up 63-61.

Young filled in for Filipowski about as well as anyone could have hoped. He defended and rebounded beautifully when he was in for Filipowski.

After that beautiful pick and roll, Roach stole the ball and then Duke got the possession arrow and he hit a jumper to put Duke up 65-61.

From there it was basic game management. Duke handled the ball well, passed it well and obviously defended very well.

Down the stretch, McCain made a three, Young hit a pair of free throws, Roach and Foster combined for three more, Roach made a layup, Filipowski split a pair from the line and Roach hit his final two shots.

And the highest compliment we can give this effort is this: Duke played Duke Basketball. This was smart, determined and powerful basketball team. It faced some adversity and overcame it. They played well together too - Duke assisted on 14 of 25 baskets, hitting 49 percent overall. Three point shooting wasn’t great - just 4-12 - but it didn’t matter too much in this one, partly because Duke was aggressive and got to the line 29 times, hitting 24 of those.

And this is also important: although Tyrese Proctor is still out, the freshman guards, Caleb Foster and Jared McCain, played very well. McCain shot 7-11 and hit all but one of Duke’s threes, finishing with 21 points, two rebounds and three assists.

Foster ran point well and you can see his confidence increasing as his drives get more daring and assertive. He finished with 12 points, five rebounds and two assists.

The star of the game, Roach, had 18 points, hitting 5-9 and 7-8 from the line. He also showed real senior leadership and his ability to get to the basket is really becoming a huge benefit for Duke.

Kyle Filipowski finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and three steals and, unlike the last game, just two turnovers (he had seven against Hofstra).

Mark Mitchell’s three point struggle continues, but he hit 3-6 and finished with 10 points. He also defended well.

There was a lot to like in this game as we said, not least of all that Duke fought back and refused to let go of this game. There are still some things to work on. There were still some defensive lapses and Mitchell’s offense still needs some rehab. But they did this tonight without Proctor and the depth is developing nicely as a result. Foster ran the team just fine and when Proctor is back, Duke will have unreal depth at the point. We’d still like to see Sean Stewart step up. He didn’t get into the game tonight but he might have an undisclosed injury for all we know.

Still, all in all, things are lookng much better.

Notes - Yves Missi is going to be special...he had eight offensive boards (10 total) and five blocks...that’s approaching Tshiebwe levels...and he’s just a freshman...one of the things that this Duke team is starting to show is a level of fearlessness...it starts with Filipowski and Roach but it is spreading to Foster and McCain....love that Young hasn’t played much lately but when he was called on and needed he was savage...only Filipowski had more than two fouls...Missi matched Duke’s offensive rebounding by himself...Baylor is a team that could improve dramatically by the end of the year...

Poll

Player of the Game vs. Baylor

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    Mark Mitchell
    (2 votes)
  • 2%
    Kyle Filipowski
    (13 votes)
  • 2%
    Caleb Foster
    (13 votes)
  • 17%
    Jared McCain
    (106 votes)
  • 59%
    Jeremy Roach
    (362 votes)
  • 0%
    TJ Power
    (3 votes)
  • 17%
    Ryan Young
    (109 votes)
  • 0%
    Jaylen Blakes
    (3 votes)
611 votes total Vote Now