Sunday, November 23, 2008

Duke 78, Montana 58

Duke wrapped up a busy stretch of 4 games in 8 days (including a trip to NYC) with a Sunday afternoon tilt against the Montana Grizzlies. The game started tight for the first 8 minutes or so, and then the Devils hit the gas for the end of the first half and effectively put the game out of reach by halftime. Duke outscored Montana 38-15 in the last 24 possessions of the half, and dominated every aspect of the game. In that stretch, there were 8 forced turnovers (7 via the steal), the Devils shot 14-22 from the field (and 2-4 from 3) while holding Montana to 6-17, Duke got 6 of the 10 available offensive rebounds and 10 of the 12 defensive rebounds, etc.

Of course, outside of that 24 possession blitz, the performance was thoroughly meh. Montana won the other ~45 possessions of the game 43-40, and Duke's shooting on the whole was bad - only 29-66 overall, and 11-27 from 2 and 2-11 from 3 outside of the last 24 possessions of the first half.

With Paulus sitting on the bench for this one, there was plenty of lineup experimentation to go around. Today, it worked well - the team was +12 when someone other than Smith was running the point. Coach K also went both super-big (Henderson played the "2" for a 7-possession stretch) and super-small (McClure played the "5" for a couple possessions). On the whole, big was the way to go today - all our margin came with Zoubek or Plumlee at center. We were +20 when one of them was in the game at the "5" (53 possessions) and even when both were sitting (15 offensive and 17 defensive possessions).

Here's the HD Box for the game. I have one for the Michigan game as well, but am holding off because of an apparent discrepancy between the lineup info on the box score and the results of someone's game chart.

Around the ACC

Virginia Tech and Miami both dropped games today - Tech getting nipped by Seton Hall because they couldn't knock down free throws (Jeff Allen, primary culprit, went 5-15 from the line), and Miami simply got outclassed by the Huskies, particularly Hasheem Thabeet, who had something like 19, 12, and 7. The ACC now has three blemished squads - the two above and BC, which lost on the road to St. Louis. Lessons learned from the BC and VT losses - these are not deep teams in terms of actual contributors. Tech is about three deep - there's just a huge talent fall-off after Vassallo, Delaney (who's having a bit of a breakout year so far), and Allen. BC is slightly deeper, but lower ceiling - they can generally count on Rice getting help from Raji, Trapani, and Sanders, but none of those three are really that good (although I have a soft spot for Corey Raji's remarkable offensive efficiency).

Four games coming Monday, starting with Miami hopping back on the horse against San Diego. FSU and Wake have what should be extremely easy wins against Western Illinois and Winston-Salem, respectively. The biggest drama in those two may be whether the Deacs hit 120 again. Finally, UNC begins its time in Maui by taking on the host school, Chaminade. This site, for one, hopes they'll be less than gracious hosts, and give this generation a Ralph Sampson game, only starring Tyler Hansbrough this time.

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