Monday, February 23, 2009

Monday Morning Shootaround: Duke Outlasts Wake Forest

On a Sunday that saw a lot of important basketball get played, the biggest game of the day was a top 10 battle in the ACC. Freshman Elliot Williams, starting his second game of the season, set the tone early as he picked up three steals in the opening minutes of the game. It would continue for the rest of the first half, as Duke went on a 26-4 run fueled by Wake Forest turnovers to open a 41-19 lead midway through the opening frame. Gerald Henderson scored 14 straight at one point during that stretch. All told, the Demon Deacons finished with 16 turnovers in the first half which led to 25 Duke points.

Down 22, Wake really started to turn things around, mainly because they stopped giving the ball away. Jeff Teague is the guy that woke them up. He still hadn't attempted a field goal when Duke pushed their lead to 22, but he scored 14 of Wake's next 21 points as they widdled the lead down to 11 at the break.

Wake would make a couple pushes in the second half, twice getting the lead down to just two. Wake was playing some extremely efficient basketball down the stretch on the offensive end, scoring just about everytime they had the ball (for the game, they were 36-59, or 61%, from the field and grabbed 11 offensive boards) and not committing a turnover until there were under five minutes left. The issue was one the defensive end, where they were just unable to get stops. Both Jon Scheyer and Gerald Henderson were on fire (career highs of 30 and 35, respectively), but even when those two missed, Duke was cleaning up the offensive glass. There must have been six or seven tip-ins by Duke players in the final 20 minutes.

Elliot Williams is going to be an excellent player for Duke. He is a tremendous athlete that loves to defend, and while he isn't quite there offensively yet (right now, his offense consists of putting the ball on the floor, going left, and trying to get to the rim), when he does he is going to be scary.

The Blue Devils eventually won 101-91. In addition to the 65 Duke got from Scheyer and Henderson, Williams and Kyle Singler added 11 apiece. Wake was led by 28 from Jeff Teague and 26 and 11 from James Johnson.

The rest of Sunday's games:

  • Clemson 81, Wake Forest 73: Trevor Booker's 21 and 12 helped to lead the Tigers back from a early 15 point deficit. The win allowed Clemson to stay tied for second in the ACC, just a game back from UNC in the loss column.
  • Villanova 89, Syracuse 86: Dwayne Anderson had 22 to lead six Wildcats in double figures as 'Nova was able to knock off the sputtering Orange. Dante Cunningham had 12, 12, and 6 dimes while Reggie Redding finished with 11, 7 assists, and 6 steals. For Syracuse, the issue was turnovers early. But as the game progressed, the Orange just got no production from Rick Jackson or Arinze Onuaku (combined, the two went for six points and ten boards). They were forced to go with Kristoff Ongenaet and Paul Harris quite a bit, and while those two are good players and had good games (11 boards for Ongenaet, 21 and 6 boards for Harris), the Orange lost all the scoring advantages they had inside. As a result, the Orange ended up shooting 39 three's on the game. It also didn't help that Jonny Flynn was suffering from a flu bug, but Villanova is a lot better than they are currently getting credit for. Banged up or not, the Wildcats were in control of this one for most of the game. They did turn the ball over a number of times late, which allowed the 'Cuse to make a run. But Flynn missed a great look at a three as the buzzer sounded.
  • Arizona State 70, Arizona 68: A combination of hot shooting (10-16 from three in the first half) and forcing turnovers allowed ASU to build up a 17 points lead midway through the second half. But Arizona was able to make a comeback, going on a 25-6 run to take a 62-60 lead. Things would go back and forth from there, but with 25 seconds left, Jeff Pendergraph stepped to the line and hit two free throws for a 70-68 lead. Jordan Hill would miss a tough leaner off the glass, but it looked as if Zane Johnson was going to force OT. Unfortunately, Johnson missed the wide-open tip-in, and ASU would go on to win. James Harden had 18 points, 9 boards, and 5 assists while Jeff Pendergraph added 16 points and 12 boards. One thing about the Sun Devils in this game was that they were able to get just about any shot they wanted against the Arizona zone. The Wildcats were terrible on their rotations and left so many gaps open. They got lucky that ASU went cold for a stretch in the second half, because the Sun Devils got a lot of very good looks from three.
  • Illinois 70, Ohio State 68: The Illini got 22 points from Mike Davis, while looking much better offensively than they did in their 38-33 loss to Penn State earlier in the week. Trent Meachem added 17 for Illinois, who moved into sole possession of third place in the league.
  • Iowa 70, Michigan 60 OT: Jake Kelly had 23 points and 9 assists as the Hawkeyes knocked off Michigan, who all of a sudden look destined for the NIT. The Wolverines are now 7-8 in the Big Ten, good for eighth.
  • Xavier 71, George Washington 53: CJ Anderson led five players in double figures with 14 points as the Musketeers moved a game up in the A-10.
  • Temple 70, St. Bonaventure 56: Don't look now, but the Owls are tied for second, just a half game back of Xavier, in the A-10.
  • Minnesota 72, Northwestern 45: Lawrence Westbrook had 17 to lead the Gophers to a much needed win in their quest for the dance.

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