Mike Krzyzewski said it best following Duke’s one point victory over Vermont when he said “we were awful.” The Blue Devils certainly were not.
Krzyzewski also said his team didn’t respect the game or the opponent a condemnation that has rarely if ever has been uttered by the hall of fame coach, but he had reason to say it. Duke struggled to put away the Catamounts and it almost cost them.
Candon Rusin converted a four point play to tie the game at 90 with 10 seconds remaining. After Rodney Hood was fouled and made one of two to put Duke up one, Rusin had a chance failed to get the winning basket but could not get it off in time, and the Blue Devils held off an impressive Vermont team 91-90.
With 3:52 remaining in the game the Catamounts lead the 6th ranked Blue Devils 78-77. Fortunately the game is 40 minutes and not 36 for the Blue Devils.
Jabari Parker tied his career high of 26 points. Rodney Hood added 22 and Andre Dawkins who was the first half spark off the bench scored 16 to lead the Blue Devils in scoring, but it was the defense or lack of that proved to cause more problems or opportunities for Vermont.
The Catamounts were moving the ball and scoring at will against an “ify” looking Duke defense that allowed Vermont to shoot 64 percent from the field. Clancy Rugg scored 20 points and Sandro Carissimo added 16, and Hector Harold led Vermont with a career high 24 points.
Offensively Duke can compete with any team in the nation, but allowing 90 points against a Catamount team ranked 323rd in scoring, has to be alarming to coaches, players and obviously fans.
Duke opened up a 15 point first half lead that Vermont quickly cut to 8 at the break. Sound familiar? Against ECU Duke lost their lead and nearly fell to the Pirates a point Quinn Cook addressed following the game. Both games were played in Cameron Indoor Stadium, a place not accustomed to seeing the home team struggle against an unranked opponent.
Duke will face stiffer competition at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, and most certainly Friday with a probable Arizona match up, if Duke gets by Alabama. That may be an even bigger “if” with the recent play of the team.
The next few days will be focused on the Crimson Tide, and most certainly rebounding, defense and perhaps more than one talk on respecting opponents and playing the game with some heart.
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