For any other team, being this battered would be devastating.
For this year’s Duke team, it’s just a minor inconvenience.
Luke Kennard scored 24 points on 8-11 shooting, and Amile Jefferson had 17 points and 15 rebounds to lead the #1 Blue Devils to a 75-65 victory over the #21 Rams.
Duke went small almost the entire game, starting four guards (Frank Jackson, Grayson Allen, Kennard, and Matt Jones) around Jefferson, as the starters played 94% of available minutes. Chase Jeter, Duke’s other healthy big man, injured his ankle the day before against Penn State. He played 8 minutes, clearly slower than usual, not scoring a single point and picking up a couple fouls.
Grayson Allen scored his 1,000th point of his career on a lay-up in the first half, but struggled the whole game, scoring 10 points on 3-11 shooting. It was clear the toe injury he suffered the day before hindered his athleticism, forcing him to stay around the perimeter. Head coach Mike Krzyzewski confirmed as much after the game, saying Allen was playing at around 50% of his ability.
Jared Terrell scored 22 points to lead Rhode Island, with Hassan Martin adding 15 and 5 blocks. E.C. Matthews also struggled, scoring only 9 points on only 3-7 shooting. Javis Garrett, who suffered a scary head injury in yesterday’s semifinal, only had 4 points but 6 assists. In spite of having a clear size advantage, Rhode Island lost the battle on the boards 36-35. The Rams never led, trailing by double digits the majority of the second half, with the largest margin being 70-52 with 3 minutes remaining. The Rams got it down to 10 but got no closer.
For the Blue Devils, it insured that there would not be a significant drop in the rankings after Tuesday’s loss to Kansas. Duke plays William and Mary on Wednesday and Appalachian State on Saturday before taking on Michigan State November 29th in the ACC-Big 10 challenge. By then, ideally for the Blue Devils Jayson Tatum and Marques Bolden should be able to return, taking the load off of the other Blue Devils and giving them time to heal.
For the Rams, in spite of the loss, it would be very surprising for them to drop out of the Top 25, as they still possess a very talented team that showed resilience against the top ranked Blue Devils. Once E.C. Matthews is fully re-integrated to the game, the Rams should be deadly. They play Belmont and Valparaiso this upcoming week before playing Providence on December 3rd as part of the Ocean State Cup, the basketball rivalry between the four Division I Schools in the state of Rhode Island.
#24 Cincinnati beat Penn State 71-50 to win the consolation game of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic.