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Blue Devils Soar Past The Golden Eagles To Win NCAA Opener 74-51

As the Blue Devils make a solid debut in the 2023 NCAA Tournament

NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament - First Round - Orlando
ORLANDO, FL - MARCH 16: Christian Reeves #21 of the Duke Blue Devils takes a shot against the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles during the first round of the 2023 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament held at Amway Center on March 16, 2023 in Orlando, Florida.
Photo by Ben Solomon/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Duke started the game against Oral Roberts like maybe they had read some of the people who predicted an upset and weren’t going to allow it.

The Blue Devils jumped out to a 15-0 lead and shut Oral Roberts out for nearly the first eight minutes. The rest of the first half was no different. Despite an off game by Kyle Filipowski, who apparently was so nervous that he threw up during the game, according to the TV crew, Duke had no trouble with the Golden Eagles and took a 40-23 lead to the half.

The second half was not much different although ORU did cut the lead to 54-40 on an Isaac McBride three pointer with 8:50 left to play.

But the young Blue Devils regained their poise when Tyrese Proctor hit a three with 31 seconds later.

Max Abmas hit a layup to cut the lead back to 15 then Jeremy Roach and Proctor hit shots to push the lead back to 18 with 6:07 left. We could see a Rick Pitino team making a charge to get back into it but not this team.

Duke continued to dominate and when Dariq Whitehead made a three-pointer with 2:47 left to build the lead back to 25, there was really nothing left for ORU to do except to try to make it more respectable.

Dereck Lively had a superb game with four points, 12 rebounds and nine blocks. Jeremy Roach finished with 23. Dariq Whitehead came off the bench to hit 3-3 on three pointers and finish with 13.

For Oral Roberts, largely thanks to Proctor who has emerged as a tremendous defender, star guard Max Abmas was held to 12 points and 4-15/2-9 shooting.

Conner Vanover, 7-5 and rumored to be a major concern, was what we thought he would be: a slow, frail 7-5 guy who shoots outside because he can’t really play inside. There is a reason why he is on his third school: he’s not very good (which is why he didn’t really play at Cal or Arkansas).

Isaac McBride? 3-10. Kareem Thompson? 2-6. Carlos Jurgens? 1-9.

Duke was so good defensively that an off-night by Filipowski really didn't matter.

We didn't want to say this ahead of the game, but if you saw the Oral Roberts Summit League Tournament game we linked to earlier this week, this team barely beat St. Thomas. And if you’ve never heard of St. Thomas you’re not alone.

The idea that a team that had to struggle to beat St. Thomas was somehow going to knock off Duke was a bit optimistic, to say the least.

What we saw from the Blue Devils Thursday night was a very solid, mature team that is growing by leaps and bounds. The odds are against them winning the tournament, just as they are for every other team, and advancing always involves a bit of luck even if that only means good health.

But Duke is peaking at exactly the right time and this win should give the young Blue Devils a dose of confidence - perhaps enough for Filipowski to get through the next game without having to vomit.

Notes - Duke had just seven turnovers and pounded the smaller Golden Eagles on the boards, 47-32...on the offensive end it was 14-11 but that’s 11 offensive rebounds out of 44 potential boards...the rest went to Duke...Lively’s stats were impressive but can’t possibly relay the confidence he showed or the total control of the inside...the guy keeps getting better and better...Duke hit 48.4 percent, which wasn’t great, but Proctor was just 3-11...Whitehead has emerged as a huge factor on offense...that guy is nailing threes and this game was pretty much a statement...guard me now or pay later...his improvement is phenomenal...the full links for this game will be posted on the main tournament links page for Friday as we always do...


Player Of The Game vs. Oral Roberts

  • 0%
    Mark Mitchell
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    Kyle Filipowski
    (5 votes)
  • 28%
    Dereck Lively
    (252 votes)
  • 3%
    Tyrese Proctor
    (35 votes)
  • 59%
    Jeremy Roach
    (531 votes)
  • 6%
    Dariq Whitehead
    (55 votes)
  • 0%
    Kale Catchings
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    Christian Reeves
    (6 votes)
  • 0%
    Ryan Young
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    Jaden Schutt
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    Max Johns
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    Jacob Grandison
    (1 vote)
898 votes total Vote Now