Monday, February 02, 2009

Duke 79, Virginia 54

Duke shot out to an early 22-point lead, and then essentially coasted the rest of the way. From the time it hit 34-12, the lead stayed in a narrow range, going between 16 and 27 the rest of the way (and in the second half, the range was even smaller - Virginia never got closer than 21, and 27 was the biggest lead). Again, defense led the way. Duke put on stifling ball pressure, forcing the Cavaliers into 17 turnovers in 38 possessions - that's 45%, almost every other time down the court. 7 came in the first 10 possessions alone. One of the hallmarks of the Duke defense is that it makes teams play faster than they want to; freshmen are particularly vulnerable to that. Virginia's freshman backcourt got going way, way too fast, and coughed the ball up like crazy.

On offense, Gerald Henderson's multi-faceted scoring attack continues to shine. He had 14 before Virginia had a dozen. He had an extremely efficient 18 points, and hit shots in a variety of fashions - dunks, jumpers off the dribbles, spot up 3s. His game is becoming more complete by the day. Scheyer got a little bit of his shot back, nailing 3 of 5 threes. He was also extremely active on the offensive glass. Speaking of the boards, Duke had a pretty dominant defensive rebounding performance (20 of 28, 71.4%), but did it without anyone getting more than 3. Seven different players had either 2 or 3 defensive rebounds. All season it's been a team effort on the glass, and yesterday's game was perhaps the most emblematic of that.

The biggest positive from yesterday, though, was the play of Nolan Smith. He was aggressive, constantly working to get into the lane for layups and pull-ups. He kept getting good shots, finishing 6-8 for 2 and 1-2 from 3. His ability to penetrate on a consistent basis will give this team a much needed weapon to compliment Henderson, Singler, and Scheyer. Hopefully he can carry his outlook from this game into the last half of the ACC. Here's the HD Box:

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