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That’s More Like It: Duke Rolls By Charlotte, 80-56

As the Blue Devils show a lot of heart

NCAA Basketball: Charlotte at Duke
Dec 9, 2023; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Mark Mitchell (25) shoots over Charlotte 49ers forward Iaroslov Niagu (99) during the second half at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

After the dismal performance at Georgia Tech last weekend, Jon Scheyer said there was a lot to work on during practice this week. And to judge by what we saw against Charlotte, a lot got done.

Duke played without starting point guard Tyrese Proctor, who was on crutches after suffering an injury very early against Georgia Tech, and Christian Reeves, who was dressed in street clothes.

Didn’t matter.

The Blue Devils showed vastly more heart and cohesion against Charlotte, with ball movement that was crisp and, at times, brilliant.

It was, in short, a completely different team.

Caleb Foster took over Proctor’s spot in the lineup and acquitted himself well. He only had one turnover - Duke in general took good care of the ball with just 11 total turnovers - and finished with seven points.

Jared McCain was the offensive star of the night with 21 points while Jeremy Roach added 18. Mark Mitchell had 12 including 8-12 from the free throw line. Kyle Filipowski had just five but he had 13 rebounds and four assists.

Duke was more aggressive in a lot of ways. As we said, the ball movement was vastly improved. Guys were whipping the ball around in a way that must have warmed Scheyer’s heart. Duke finished with 15 assists on 24 baskets.

The bench wasn’t used as much as it has been in some games this season, but down one starter that’s not a surprise.

Jaylen Blakes had 21 minuts and he was perfect from the floor - 3-3 on three point shots, 5-5 overall and 2-2 from the line. He also had three boards, three assists and, for symmetry, three fouls.

Agent Chaos also did some disruptive things. At one point, he drew a charge and then hit a basket immediately after. At another he hit the floor for a loose ball, which really fired his team up.

One of the nicer things though was seeing McCain use his smarts more. He’s a very heady player. The guy has a beautiful shot but he also has the ability to penetrate and he has a keen spatial awareness of where his teammates are or will be, which we saw in preseason video. He also does well when he gets in the lane.

Roach played efficiently. He shot 3-5 from deep and 5-9 overall. He also had three rebounds and three assists and a pair of steals.

Not that everything was perfect of course.

Mitchell and Filipowski, Duke’s main inside players, combined to shoot 4-15. Filipowski typically attempts a few threes but in this one, he didn’t even try one until fairly late in the game (he missed). Duke’s front court reserves - Sean Stewart, TJ Power and Ryan Young - combined for 17 minutes, scoring a total of two points. They also got four rebounds.

Stewart, who is always entertaining to watch because he is wildly talented and, uh, unpredictable, picked up a ball and decided to go coast to coast despite a couple of guards who were running with him. He got his attempt blocked and was immediately subbed out.

As we’ve noted before, he’s immensely talented but doesn’t always make good decisions and that one got him right off the floor.

Duke did pull away from Charlotte but let’s be clear about this: the 49ers are tough, as in physically tough. They have a lot of power. That’s true in the frontcourt obviously but Lu’cye Patterson is 6-2 and 210 and built like a fullback.

Their sheer power gave Duke some challenges and will give their conference opponents some challenges too. This is a seriously strong team. The starting center, Dishon Jackson, gave Duke some real trouble inside.

As we noted earlier, Filipowski scored just five points and his lack of productivity clearly frustrated him. We wondered though if part of it was by design, that Scheyer wanted other people to be involved more.

Part of it too was just that Charlotte was big enough to punish Duke physically. There were a number of very physical plays that the refs let go that saw guys on both teams pushed to the court. This was a very physical game.

All in all, it was a good game to build on. Duke overcame the absence of Proctor, a scary situation with Filipowski who went down grabbing his ankle and who briefly left the bench to have it looked at/worked on, and a general lack of frontcourt offense to nail down a 24 point win.

It might have been more if the Devils had been better on defense. Charlotte repeatedly suckered interior defenders out of position and got easy baskets when they were absent.

Still, Duke held Charlotte to 40.4 percent overall and just 4-20 on threes. You can quibble about a lot of things in any game, but the Blue Devils did a solid job in general.

Notes - a student passed out and fell on the court at one point...the privacy screens were rolled out and she was ultimately taken from the court for treatment...Manny Diaz was introduced to great applause...he also did the charity free throw and nailed it...later he and his son went to sit with the Crazies...

Poll

Player of the Game vs. Charlotte

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    Mark Mitchell
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    Kyle Filipowski
    (2 votes)
  • 2%
    Caleb Foster
    (6 votes)
  • 48%
    Jared McCain
    (115 votes)
  • 8%
    Jeremy Roach
    (20 votes)
  • 0%
    Sean Stewart
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    TJ Power
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    Ryan Young
    (0 votes)
  • 36%
    Jaylen Blakes
    (86 votes)
  • 0%
    Spencer Hubbard
    (0 votes)
236 votes total Vote Now