Sunday, December 09, 2007

Duke 95, Michigan 67

The Devils looked a little rusty at the start of the game, and neither team could hit anything from the field early in the first half. Duke started 4-17 from 2, and Michigan started 3-18. Duke got hot earlier than Michigan did, putting together a quick 11-0 run over 5 possessions that essentially put the game away. From that point on, the game played a little bit like a shootout - Michigan scored 51 points in its last 42 possessions, only to be out-gunned by Duke's 61 points over that same stretch.

King and Smith both had big games to lead the way for the Devils, with Nolan playing easily his best and most assertive game of the season. His continued growth will be a huge asset for Duke as ACC play rolls around. Another great sign for Duke was the lack of turnovers - only 8 in a 76 possession game, which is just excellent. The Devils put together a stretch of 18:12 of turnoverless basketball spanning the last half of the first half and most of the early second half. Paulus and Nelson combined for 9 assists without turning the ball over once.

From the lineup front, this was Coach K's least active game by a long shot as far as substitutions go. He changed lineups only 20 times during the game, and let almost every group play at least 3 possessions together before making a change. Duke went small (neither Zoubek nor Thomas on the court) quite a bit against Michigan with good success - 38-19 over 22 possessions, including the aforementioned 11-0 run. Not surprisingly, Taylor King was on the court for almost all of our spurts - an early 8-2 burst and the 11-0 run. He's been Vinnie Johnson-esque in his ability to provide instant offense off the bench.

Here's the HD Box from the game:

O. Poss D. Poss +/- Pts 2PM-A 3PM-A FTM-A FGA Ast TO STL BLK ORB DRB
Nelson 51 49 +30 10/66 2-7 2-3 0-0 10/51 3/20 0/51 3/49 0/45 1/29 4/31
Paulus 46 45 +28 8/62 1-2 2-5 0-0 7/45 6/20 0/46 2/45 0/39 0/24 1/26
Scheyer 54 53 +20 10/72 2-4 1-2 3-4 6/52 3/25 0/54 1/53 0/48 2/27 2/30
Singler 34 32 +18 9/43 2-3 1-3 2-2 6/32 0/14 2/34 0/32 0/27 1/16 3/18
King 37 37 +14 18/50 4-4 3-8 1-2 12/37 1/12 2/37 0/37 2/32 3/20 2/20
Henderson 53 53 +11 12/60 4-12 1-2 1-2 14/47 4/18 2/53 0/53 1/44 0/34 7/26
Smith 35 35 +11 17/44 6-6 1-3 2-2 9/34 0/11 1/35 0/35 0/32 1/17 4/22
Zoubek 26 24 +10 7/31 3-5 0-0 1-2 5/25 0/9 0/26 1/24 0/20 3/15 2/15
Davidson 4 4 +1 0/6 0-0 0-1 0-0 1/4 1/3 0/4 0/4 0/5 0/1 0/4
Thomas 28 30 -1 2/26 1-4 0-0 0-0 4/27 1/10 1/28 0/30 0/25 2/16 0/15
McClure 12 13 -2 2/15 1-1 0-0 0-0 1/13 0/6 0/12 0/13 0/13 0/6 2/8
Duke 76 75 +28 95 26-48 11-27 10-14 75 19/37 8/76 7/75 3/66 14/41 29/43

0.542 0.407 0.714
51.35 10.53 9.33 4.55 34.15 67.44

Around the ACC - Welcome Conference Play!

Boston College and Maryland opened up ACC play against each other for the third straight year, with BC pulling out a tight one at the Comcast Center, 81-78. I did not get to see the game (the Sonics are broadcast on FSN, and it blacks out ACC Sunday Night Hoops when there's a conflict), but from the box score, I can imagine there is much terping going on in Gary-land tonight. BC won the game at the line, taking 41 trips to the Terps' 16 and fouling out Milbourne and Vazquez in the process. The Eagles have made a habit out of getting to the free throw line - Coach Skinner has always made it a priority for his teams to draw contact and get free points from the stripe. BC led the league in both FT Rate and %points from FTs by a wide margin last year, and this game puts them off to a good head start in both categories. Tyrelle Blair posted a points/blocks double-double, Tyrese Rice played a full 40 (with 12 trips to the line on his own), and Corey Raji poured in 17 points in just 18 minutes off the bench. Hayes and Vazquez racked up 7 assists a piece for the Terps, and James Gist put up a double double (the more traditional points/rebounds variety).

Special Live Scouting Report

The Pitt Panthers traveled up to the Emerald State this weekend to take on the Huskies, and yours truly hit up the Hec to take in the contest. It was an excellent game that Washington would have won if the game clock went to 40:01, but Justin Dentmon's game winning runner at the buzzer was still in his hand as the red light went off. There were a couple of things that were impressive about Pitt. First was Levance Fields. The point guard has the ball in his hands all the time, can create for both himself and others off the dribble, and hits shots from anywhere on the floor, including some with a high degree of difficulty. He's short but strong, and Washington's smaller guards couldn't do much to stop him. Stopping him will be top priority for Duke - look possibly for Nelson to check him on defense. Second, and this plays off Fields a bit, Pitt executes its favorite offensive play very well. They start in a flex set with Fields at the top of the key, a guard on each wing, and a post on each baseline. Fields penetrates on one side of the court or the other, and the guard on that side comes towards him. There's a hand-off option to the cutting guard, or Fields can continue to penetrate. On the hand-off, Fields gets a little bit of a screen on the defender, and the guard can get into the line, drawing help from the baseline. If the help comes, the ball is kicked to the baseline post for either a wide open 10-footer or a layup or dunk. If the help doesn't come, the guard has an easy ten footer in the lane, or can drive for the layup. All of Pitt's guards move the ball very well, and they put pressure on defensive rotation to come up with stops. Washington's rotation was not so hot - Duke's will need to be good to prevent Pitt from getting a lot of open looks. Finally, Pitt's young center is an absolute load. He attacks the glass with reckless abandon, and goes to the hole hard. His style of play makes me think he could be foul prone (although he didn't get in trouble on Saturday), but if he stays on the court, he will be a handful for whoever Duke has in the post.

The good thing is, he's the only inside scoring option. Also, Fields is the only guard for Pitt who can really break you down off the dribble. Pitt's defense, much vaunted in past years, was not terribly impressive, particularly on the perimeter. The Huskies got open looks from 3 just about whenever they wanted, and it was UW's perimeter shooting that made this contest close. Look for Duke (which has taken over 100 threes in the past 4 games) to try to exploit this weakness in Pitt's D.

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