Duke Blue Devils played Arizona Wildcats squaring off two top freshmen in Jabari Parker and Aaron Gordon in Madison Square Garden. Thanksgiving has just passed and both teams have a number of things to be thankful for. First and foremost they have these two freshmen leading their teams going forward. Both teams look like they will be championship contenders this season, if they can make some adjustments to sure up their weaknesses.
The game started out fast paced. A number of players got involved early. Jabari Parker, Rasheed Sulaimon, Rodney Hood, and Quinn Cook all got off to quick starts. The offense was there for the Blue Devils, but struggled again on defense. Offensively they were able to get more people involved in this game early on. The bad news offensively was Parker didn’t start strong.
Defensively they struggled again against Arizona. They gave up to many easy baskets in this game, but competed better than some recent games. They were able to take Aaron Gordon out of the game early with two fouls. The best thing about their defense is they were able to create turnovers.
The Blue Devils picked up their defense late in the first half, and took away the easy baskets. They were able to hold Arizona to only 33 points at the half. The Blue Devils held a three point halftime lead.
The second half both teams made adjustments on the defensive end, and both were able to neutralize the other’s offense. The help defense for Duke was much improved in the second half.
Arizona played great defense on Parker sending two defenders at him most of the game. This is something Duke will have to adjust against some of the better teams. The other thing that hurt the Blue Devils on the offensive side of the ball is the ball movement in the second half. It was stuck to often in the hands of Parker or Sulaimon.
The Blue Devils played well for over half the game, but at the end not enough players to step up in crucial moments. It will only get worse for the Blue Devils if Cook or Sulaimon can’t have big games the rest of the season. They played a two-three zone for the first time this season because of how they were getting exploited in the paint, and that is something they will have to deal with the rest of the season. The number one priority for Coach Mike Krzyzewski this season is how to handle bigger teams this season.
The two freshmen that were the focus of this game didn’t have great games. Neither Parker nor Gordon had one of their best games, but both contributed. Another great game of two top ten teams, but for Duke it still wasn’t good enough. If they can’t find the third scorer on this team Duke will struggle to compete with the best teams in the country. The final score was Duke 66 Arizona 72, they get another shot against a top 25 Michigan team on December 3rd.