Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Duke 80, Presbyterian 49

The Blue Devils and the Blue Hose played the second official game of the 2008-2009 season, and while neither team played particularly sharp, Duke came away with a comfortable 31-point win keyed mostly by their defense. Duke forced 28 turnovers (17 of which came via the steal), controlled the defensive glass, and harassed Presbyterian into a very poor shooting night. A few general comments from reviewing the box score and following the game cast (I'll have HD boxes for this game and the Georgia Southern game up tonight or tomorrow).

First, Duke started exceptionally slowly in each half, although each slow start was simply a result of shots not falling, rather than turnovers. Having not seen the game, I can't tell whether it was good shots not falling, poor shots, or a little of both. Second, despite the fact that the poor starts were not influenced by turnovers, Duke turned the ball over too much. Of particular note was the lineup that finished the game - Paulus, Williams, Pocius, Czyz, and Plumlee - which committed 6 turnovers in just 11 possessions for a sloppy, sloppy finish. Even without their help, though, the Devils were too generous - 15 turnovers in the first 68 possessions. Third, the defense was excellent. Better than one of every three Blue Hose possessions turned into a coughup, and Duke got several points in transition as a result. Fourth, Duke focused heavily on scoring from 2. The Devils took only 11 threes, which (without looking) strikes me as fewer attempts than in any game last season. My gut tells me this was just a product of a) lots of fast breaks and b) a very small opponent, but it's nice to see the team focusing inside-out, rather than the other way around.

Tonight, the Devils hop right back on the horse to take on Georgia Southern, which upset Houston yesterday in a very tight affair. The Eagles were led by senior Trumaine Pearson's double-double - a great start to a senior year for a guy who played less than 10 minutes a game last season. Lead guard Willie Powers also chipped in with 14. Georgia Southern won the game down low - Houston was held to 13 for 37 from 2 and got controlled on the glass, allowing the Eagles to rebound almost 50% of their misses. Of course, the Cougars didn't help themselves by shooting just 59.3% from the line, either.

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