Duke puts together complete game and crushes St. Francis (Pa.) 124-67

Krzyzewski is happy with performance the Blue Devils provided against the over-matched Red Flash.
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Krzyzewski is happy with performance the Blue Devils provided against the over-matched Red Flash.
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Duke

Five observations from Duke’s 124-67 win over Saint Francis

By Jonathan M. Alexander

jalexander@newsobserver.com

December 06, 2017 02:42 AM

DURHAM

No. 1 Duke dominated from start to finish in its game against Saint Francis (Pa.) late Tuesday night, winning 124-67. It was the first time all season that Duke had scored 100 points in a game.

The Blue Devils will now head into conference play undefeated (11-0). They will face Boston College (6-3) on the road on Saturday.

But first, here are five observations from Duke’s game against Saint Francis:

Marvin Bagley III’s double-doubles continue

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Bagley scored 19 points, and grabbed 11 rebounds on the night. It was the freshman forward’s ninth double-double of the season in 11 games. Against Michigan State on Nov. 24, in one of the two games he did not have a double-double, Bagley sat the last 30 minutes of the game after he was poked in the eye by a teammate. In the other, against Furman on Nov. 20, he had 8 rebounds, just two shy of 10.

Bagley is tied for first in the country for most double-doubles with Minnesota’s junior forward Jordan Murphy, who has an impressive nine double-doubles in nine games.

The ACC record for most double-doubles in a season is 29, set by Tim Duncan in 1997 when he was a senior at Wake Forest.

Inside is where Duke will do its most damage

When asked Tuesday, what he thought was Duke’s biggest strength, Saint Francis coach Rob Krimmel said “its inside game.”

“I think their size and their depth at that position,” Krimmel said. “They just keep coming at you in waves of size. Their ability to finish around the rim, I think that’s what they do best right now.”

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said prior to the season that this is one of the biggest teams he’s ever had. Six players are 6-9 or taller. Saint Francis had only one player who was 6-10. The Blue Devils used their size to their advantage Tuesday. Duke out-rebounded Saint Francis 61-25. Duke had 17 offensive rebounds that led to 29 second chance points.

Duke ranks third in the country in rebounds per game (44.7), trailing only Wichita State (45.9) and UNLV (46.4). The Blue Devils have outscored their opponents in the paint in all but one game (Indiana). Freshman forwards Bagley (6-11, 234 pounds) and Wendell Carter Jr. (6-10, 259 pounds) have been crucial to Duke’s success this season.

Sophomore center Marques Bolden (6-11, 246 pounds) has come off the bench and given the Blue Devils some good minutes in two of the past three games. He scored a career-high 17 points and had 10 rebounds against Saint Francis.

Turnovers can be an issue at times

Turnovers are what made a beautiful game suddenly turn sloppy for Duke last Saturday against South Dakota. The Blue Devils had a season-high 19 turnovers. Of those 19 turnovers, 15 came in the second half.

The game against Saint Francis yielded a similar result. Duke was nearly perfect in the first half. It had only one turnover all half. Then in the second half, the Blue Devils turned the ball over 12 times. Strong teams will turn those turnovers into points. Many of Duke’s second-half turnovers came after its starters had sat.

But Duke must cut down on its turnovers.

Gary Trent Jr.’s film review paid off

The last time Trent shot 50 percent or better from the floor was six games ago, when Duke played Furman, and he was 4-for-8 from the floor. Prior to that, he shot 50 percent or better one other time: against Elon in the first game of the season.

Trent has hit some crucial shots and free throws in clutch situations for Duke. But he has struggled overall from the floor. Trent said he’s watched himself on tape and noticed that he wasn’t moving without the ball.

“I watched film and I was just floating around and I wasn’t really assertive,” he said.

On Tuesday, Trent looked sharp. He hit three of his first four 3-pointers. Overall, he finished 5-for-8 from the field and 4-for-6 from behind the 3-point line.

“So I was looking for my shot a little bit more,” Trent said, “just always being shot-ready and my shot was falling.”

The walk-on gets his first career bucket. And one.

Freshman point guard Mike Buckmire hadn’t played in a game all season until Tuesday. And when the 6-2, 172-pound walk on got in the game with about two minutes left to play against Saint Francis, he made the best of it.

After a chase-down block by sophomore forward Justin Robinson, Buckmire rebounded the ball, then took it down court and drove past his defender. As he went up for the layup, he was fouled – and the shot went in as he crashed to the floor.

“I just kind of saw the court open up and just kind of took him one-on-one, and was just trying to finish,” Buckmire said. “It was not just an achievement for myself, but an achievement for the whole team.”

The crowd at Cameron Indoor Stadium erupted. It was the loudest it had been all night.

“That’s a thrill, you know, for a kid to score,” Krzyzewski said. “The students gave him a great ovation when he came in, but then when he hit ... Then he hit the free throw too, which, that was really something, because usually they’re not going to make their free throws. The thrill is gone.”

Jonathan M. Alexander: 919-829-4822, @jonmalexander