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Duke’s first half in Madison Square Garden against Texas Tech was nearly enough to deliver the second-ranked Blue Devils their second loss of the season, were it not for some suffocating defense on the No. 12 Red Raiders.
The Blue Devils’ cold shooting from the outside, which showed itself somewhat in Tuesday’s home win over Princeton, was spelled out in Duke’s 3-of-20 showing from beyond the arc in its 69-58 win. Jack White hit two of his three attempts, but the rest of the team was 1 of 17. But Duke stole the ball 15 times from an experienced Texas Tech team, which made it to the Elite Eight last spring along with the Blue Devils, and blocked seven Red Raider shots to limit their offensive possessions.
Texas Tech’s Chris Beard is talked about as one of the best defensive coaches in the game and rightfully so, but this Duke team plays defense unlike many others in program history. The Blue Devils’ adjusted defensive rating (third nationally) on advanced statistical site KenPom.com is behind only Kansas State and Texas Tech, so it’s no wonder this game was so low-scoring.
Duke, which trailed 53-49 with 7 minutes, 27 seconds to play, would ultimately hold the Red Raiders without a field goal over the final 6:22, forcing 11 straight misses as the Blue Devils left MSG with a 69-58 win.
The Blue Devils dispatched Princeton in a big way, 101-50, Tuesday night after a 10-day break due to exams at Duke, signifying the end of the fall academic calendar.
The Blue Devils looked rusty for the first eight minutes of the game, coming out of the under-12-minute timeout down 13-11. Duke didn’t lead for the first time until the six-minute mark when Cam Reddish’s 3-pointer put them up 19-18, triggering an 11-0 run.
Over the final 26 minutes of the game, however, Duke would go on to outscore Princeton 82-32. The win was Duke’s 146th straight at home against a nonconference opponent, the longest such streak in the nation.
While Princeton isn’t a great team, it just showed how much firepower this Duke squad has when it’s playing at its peak. The Blue Devils blocked 14 shots, which tied for the third most in a game in program history, and came up with 12 steals, their fifth game in a row with 10 or more thefts.
INDEPENDENCE BOWL PREP UNDERWAY
Duke is set to depart for its bowl game this week, opting to spend Christmas in Shreveport, Louisiana, in preparation for its Independence Bowl matchup against Temple.
It is the final game for a number of Duke players, with the following scholarship players exhausing their eligibility in the game: safety Brandon Feamster, offensive lineman Zach Harmon, tackle Christian Harris, safety Jordan Hayes, tight end Daniel Helm, linebacker Ben Humphreys, tight end Davis Koppenhaver, wide receiver Trevon Lee, wide receiver Johnathan Lloyd, safety Jeremy McDuffie, defensive end Twazanga Mugala, running back Nicodem Pierre, wide receiver T.J. Rahming, wide receiver Chris Taylor and kicker Collin Wareham.
There’s potential for linebacker Joe Giles-Harris and quarterback Daniel Jones to leave early for the NFL after the Dec. 27 game as well, but no official word has been released from the program.
DUKE FOOTBALL SIGNS 20
Duke added signatures from 20 verbal commits on Wednesday, the first day of the early college football signing period. Six in-state products including running back Jaylen Coleman (Matthews), defensive back Tony Davis (Gastonia), defensive back Isaiah Kemp (Wilmington), offensive lineman Jacob Monk (Clayton), defensive lineman Christian Rorie (Raleigh) and defensive back Jordan Waters (Lumberton) were joined by 14 other signees to make up Duke’s top 50 recruiting class.
Defensive back Jalen Alexander (Loganville), defensive lineman Ahmad Craig (Buford), kicker Charlie Ham (Atlanta), defensive lineman Caleb Oppan (Kennesaw) and linebacker Sayyid Stevens (Midway) will come to Durham from Georgia.
Joining Duke from Ohio are offensive lineman Ron Carr (Solon) and defensive lineman DeWayne Carter (Pickerington), while Jalon Calhoun (Greenville) and offensive lineman John Gelotte (Moore) are from South Carolina, Wide receiver Darrell Harding Jr. (Winter Garden) heads to Durham from Florida, fellow wide receiver Eli Pancol (Pendleton) from Indiana, Along with tight end Matt Smith from Needham, Massachusetts, lineman Elijah Wroten from Oreland, Pennsylvania, and RJ Oben of Montclair, New Jersey.