The scoring balance showcased by the Blue Devils was nearly unstoppable, if not unexpected. With many of the top scorers saddled with early foul trouble that slowed down the pace and flow of the game, the Blue Devils continued to work the ball around and find good looks around the basket which efficiently and methodically extended the lead.
Most of the credit, at least for the first half, has to go to Chris Duhon who finished the night with 15 points, seven rebounds, and eight assists. After a really rough junior season it seems the senior from Slidell has finally figured out what he can and cannot do or perhaps what he should and should not do on the offensive end of the floor. Throughout the game Duhon continually took his man off the dribble, and either found the open Blue Devil for an easy conversion or finished strong at the rim.
While Duhon was the go-to-guy in the first half, the second half could be termed the Shelden Williams show as the 6-foot-9 Oklahoma big man scored 17 of his 21 after intermission including a number of strong post moves while grabbing 12 rebounds and eventually extending his blocked shot streak to 18 straight games.
As a team Duke's offense was slowed by the choppy flow at times throughout the first half when a 24-17 lead quickly evaporated with a 13-4 Virginia run that made it 30-28. Still the Blue Devils were able to shoot 52% from the field for the game (34-of-65) despite a relatively cold night from the perimeter (6-of-18; 33%).
The Blue Devils also won the battle of the boards convincingly (43-30) and did well on the offensive glass, earning second shots (14 offensive rebounds). Even so the defensive pressure wasn't as fruitful as it had been in the last eight games, yielding just five steals and four blocked shots.
Finally, perhaps one of the best box score stats has to be the performance from the free throw line where Duke converted 19-of-23 attempts (83%) including a combined 11-of-13 from Williams and Shavlik Randolph.
What Went Wrong:
Early on Duke got a scare when Shelden Williams picked up a third foul in less than nine minutes of action. While at least one of the three was a phantom call, the first foul was simply considered a bad foul as Williams set an obvious moving screen. Still the big man was able to battle through and do a complete 180 in the second period.
Another cause for concern was the lackadaisical effort that seemed to take hold midway through the first half. Perhaps the most telling play was when a ball bounced slowly out of bounds as Luol Deng simply watched instead of trying to retrieve it. The problem was it had deflected off Duhon and went out to Virginia. Thankfully the senior quickly climbed all over the freshman and Duke began to find its rhythm.
Player of the Game:
For the second straight season Shelden Williams owned Virginia at University Hall. This time his 21 points and 12 rebounds are enough to earn TDD Player of the Game honors.
Duke continues the trek through the ACC season with the home opener against NC State on Thursday night. Against the Wolfpack Duke will likely concentrate on shutting down Julius Hodge and generally upping the defensive pressure against a team that has trouble putting points on the board most nights.
Establishing Randolph and Williams inside early on will give the Devils a big advantage, and will likely be one of the keys to the game for Coach K and his troops.