Zion Williamson played well in his MSG debut with 17 points and 13 rebounds. Photo Credit: Nicole Sweet/USA Today Sports
Aside from all of the blowout wins. Duke’s non-conference slate has come with many challenges that they had to face head on and last night was no different. What better way to end the large part of your non conference schedule than to go up against another defensive juggernaut like Texas Tech?
A lot was at stake with the Red Raiders as they came into the garden undefeated, and they are the top defensive team in the nation with a scoring defense of 51.2 points per game and a No.1 ranking in defensive efficiency. The Blue Devils are No.2 in defensive efficiency and held teams to 36% shooting from the field, and 28% from three point range on a nightly basis.
The Devils got out to a quick 8-0 start but that lead soon vanished when the Red Raiders outscored Duke 10-2 to tie the game at 10 with 13:21 remaining in the first half. Texas Tech would out score Duke 14- 7 to take a 24-17 lead with 8:17 remaining. Duke’s three point shooting in the first half was very poor but there was no panic as they used their ability to defend and attack the rim to close the gap. Duke finished the first half strong out scoring Texas Tech 11-5 but still trailed 29-28 going into the half.
The Red Raiders picked up from where they left off in the second half as they extended their lead to seven with 17:04 remaining Duke would then answer with a run of their own to cut Texas Tech’s lead to two with 12:40 remaining behind the play of Freshmen Tre Jones and Zion Williamson on both ends. Tre often forced turnovers and attacked the rim while Williamson gave Texas tech defenders the fits in the paint by scoring inside and drawing fouls. Jarrett Culver answered with a three point shot to give the Red Raiders a 45-40 Duke would later get a 47-46 lead with 10:15 remaining off of a jump shot from RJ Barrett. It was a back and forth battle that had the sold out crowd at Madison Square in a frenzy.
One of the turning points for the Duke Blue Devils came with 6:04 remaining in the game when Jack White hit Duke’s second three pointer to give the Blue Devils a 56-55 lead. From there the Blue Devils would out score Texas Tech 13-3 en route to a 69-58 victory. It was a hard fought win for the Blue Devils to end 2018 and go into ACC play with much confidence and awareness in their abilities to win games. As Jack white described focusing on playing well on the defensive end well helped them overcome their shooting woes throughout the game. ” it’s just the hunger…Obviously we didn’t shoot the ball as well as we usually do tonight and things weren’t really going our way , but putting an emphasis on our defense is a big part of our identity and really an emphasis that we could be one of, if not the, best defensive team in the country”.
As a team Duke stole the ball 15 times and freshman point guard Tre Jones had six of those steals. Jones spoke about the team’s collective effort on defense. ” We talk all the time about pressuring the ball and Coach Krzyzewski has been on that since he has been recruiting me about my ball pressure and how I can defend, so I was kind of here but then it’s not only me, we have a lot of guys on our team that can defend and they make my job a lot easier.”
Freshman guard Tre Jones proven to be the most important player on the floor in last nights win against No.12 Texas Tech Photo Credit: Sarah Stier/ Getty Images
As for Texas tech what doomed them in this game was the 24 turnovers which was a credit to Duke’s defense but at the same time they have a lot of positives for their effort on holding Duke to 25 points less than their season average and fouling out Dynamic freshman forward Zion Williamson. Tre Jones described Texas Tech’s defense on them during the postgame press conference.” They were plugging the gaps a lot. They help a lot and they took a lot of charges which you guys saw and they fouled out Zion by doing that”. Guard Jarrett Culver remains confident about his team going forward despite the loss. ” this says a lot about our team. We have a lot of fight on our team, lot of great players that want to be coached. I just feel like we have a lot of fight on our team. We see what we can be. We’re not there yet, but we’re going to learn from tonight and try to reach our potential”.
Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver went off for 25 points in last night against Duke Photo Credit: Sarah Stier/Getty Images
When it’s all said and done Duke vs Texas Tech would rank as one of the top college games of the 2018-19 season. Both teams put their defense up against each other and in the end The Blue Devils showed that they wanted it more. Tre Jones showed how important he is to this Duke team, while Texas Tech guard Jarrett Culver May have impressed NBA scouts with his performance. This game could have been played at Cameron indoor stadium or at Texas Tech, but it was made to be played at a neutral court like Madison Square Garden.