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December 22, 2008

Duke’s Beautiful Half

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Gasaway @ 2:57 pm

Coming off an exciting and at times surprising weekend of college hoops, let’s circle back and salute the game that tipped things off at 2 Eastern on Saturday. That would be Duke‘s 82-64 win over previously unbeaten Xavier in East Rutherford, NJ. 

This game was a lot like Memphis‘s lopsided win over Michigan State in last year’s Sweet 16, in that both contests were effectively over at the half: here the Blue Devils led the Musketeers by 31 points at the intermission. In just 20 minutes Jon Scheyer had already made 4-of-6 threes and scored 16 points. Sean Miller‘s team had already committed ten turnovers and Mike Krzyzewski‘s team had already recorded six steals. Already Duke had made eight threes and scored 55 points in just 39 possessions.

Last week I noted that Xavier would someday play a game where they didn’t shoot a lot of free throws and that when that happened their offense would suffer. I got that much right: Miller’s team shot 16 free throws and looked very mortal. Unfortunately I also held forth sagely on how the Musketeers were unlikely to be “blown out by anyone” thanks to their “outstanding defense.”

Well, it was an outstanding defense before Duke came along. It is likely that it will be again. But between 2 and 3pm on Saturday, that defense was swept away and then buried by a Blue Devil avalanche that made nine of its first 12 shots and indeed won the game in a matter of minutes. It was a dominant display of offense. 

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