Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Duke 82, Rhode Island 79

The Devils got all they could handle from a game Rhode Island team (and especially Jimmy Baron, who Bootsied Duke) put prevailed because Kyle Singler and John Scheyer took control and wouldn't let the team lose. The two each had high usage, high efficiency games - Singler put up an offensive rating of 132.11 while using 28.65% of the team's possessions, and Scheyer went even higher - 144.68 - with slightly less usage - 25.44%.

For Duke, it was a tale of two halves on offense. The Devils started extremely slowly - just 12 points in their first 20 possessions, and no made field goals between a Nolan Smith layup at the 17:24 mark and a Greg Paulus layup almost 9 1/2 minutes later. At the point when Rhode Island took its largest lead of 12, Duke was shooting just 4-20 from the field. And then all of a sudden someone flipped a switch, and the offense was exceptional. Duke scored 60 points over 37 possessions in the game's final 22:57 - an offensive rating of 162.16. Duke scored on an astounding 28 of those final 37 possessions - a floor rating of 75.68%.

Of course, every bit of that offensive performance was necessary to combat an excellent offensive showing from Rhode Island, led by Baron and Delroy James. James did the heavy lifting in the first half, leading the team with 11 at the break. The second half was simply the Jimmy Baron show - 7-8 from 3 (and the 8th was a desparation heave), often with hands in his face. His lights out shooting helped propel URI to an astounding 71.4% from 3 for the game.

For Duke, there has to be at least some concern about the defense (although sometimes, the other team just makes its shots). Rhode Island scored 79 in just 67 possessions, and almost kept pace with Duke in the second half (45 in 31, as opposed to 49 in 31 for Duke). Duke allowed a few too many offensive rebounds, and couldn't do quite enough to take Rhode Island out of their offensive rhythm. Still, the team racked up 7 steals and forced URI to turn it over nearly 27% of the time (of course, that means Rhode Island scored 79 points in just 49 non-turnover possessions - wow).

All in all, it was a good win for Duke. They caught an opponent at the top of its game, and didn't cave. Down the stretch, Duke simply finished, scoring on its final 8 possessions. Contributions came in from Thomas (layup and key steal), Smith (couple nice assists) and, of course, Scheyer and Singler. From all accounts, it was a tremendous game to watch (lousy Comcast v. ESPNU tussle). Next up, Southern Illinois.

Around the ACC

Four games in conference play tonight, with the "marquee" matchup being UNC and Kentucky. Kentucky will hope to bounce back from a home loss to the VMI Keydets, and UNC will look to continue its success with Hansbrough on the bench.

Boston College takes on St. John's for a trip to NYC (well, St. John's will be going to NYC regardless, but you get my drift) and the PNIT final four. BC has played a little above where a lot of people expected thus far - Corey Raji has taken on a larger role and continued his high offensive efficiency, and Joe Trapani is making quite a mark in the early going. Ty Rice may actually have help this season.

FSU travels to La Salle. After a decidedly lackluster performance against Jacksonville, the team could use an impressive showing. Given the talent level on the roster, though, impressive showings may be few and far between this year for the Noles.

Finally, Maryland hosts Youngstown St.

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