Redick-ulous: Amazing also works when searching for an adjective that is appropriate for the offensive outburst provided by Duke's senior captain. Redick was on a mission from the opening tip, and it showed. Of his 24 field goal attempts, maybe two or three were ill-advised, but when JJ is knocking down off balanced fall-away jumpers from 26 feet out on a routine basis, you allow him to pull the trigger whenever he feels like it.
Unlike years past, Redick also showed the ability to take his man off the dribble and pull up with his midrange game. No matter what kind of shot he was able to find in the Texas defense, the end result was usually the ‘pop' of the net being scorched.
This may have been Redick's best performance to date, though I still give credence to last year's 38 against Wake Forest and the big performance against NC State in the ACC Tournament in 2003 since both of those game needed everyone of his 30+ points. On Saturday Redick's constant barrage of jumpers had Texas down for the count with over ten minutes remaining in the ball game.
Still, Redick put in a career best 41 points and set another personal best of 9 three pointers, and he "only" played 37 minutes, his first chance to get any semblance of rest aside from the Seton Hall game.
The Young Kids Are Learning: To have a chance to win it was going to take a big step up in performance from both Josh McRoberts and Greg Paulus. The pair of newcomers had struggled against Penn and Virginia Tech to the point of being ineffective for long stretches – especially McRoberts.
Against Texas the big Indiana power forward has the best game of his career on the boards, boxing out and battling for rebounds against three of the nation's top frontcourt players. Instead of being timid and passive, Josh was aggressive and attacked the glass, coming up with five rebounds, while tipping several balls to teammates to help Duke actually out-rebound Texas 31-30.
Meanwhile Paulus ran the offense and stepped up his defense, finishing with eight points, five rebounds, and just one turnover in 33 minutes of action. He still managed to attack the basket and get into the lane, but minimized his mistakes and helped make Duke's offense the picture of efficiency on the afternoon – the team committed just seven turnovers in 40 minutes of action, two in the final minute when the game was clearly in hand.
Classmate Martynas Pocius also looked to be improved on both the offensive, and defensive end of the floor. The Lithuanian international tallied five points in 10 minutes and showed an improved feel for the defensive end of the floor by drawing a charge and not getting lost as he had been known to do in the past.
Continued Emergence: After hitting the miracle buzzer beater against Virginia Tech it seemed that a light went on inside Sean Dockery's head. Since that time the senior guard has played at a much higher level than at any time in his first three seasons. That was the case once again on Saturday as Dockery shut down future lottery pick Daniel Gibson, holding him to 6-of-11 shooting and minimizing his effectiveness off the dribble in 35 minutes of action.
The defensive prowess is nothing new for Dockery, but the overall floor game certainly is. Saturday saw Dockery knock down the first three of the game, on a breakaway no less, and then he just kept rolling along in a very controlled and steady manner. Perhaps he's playing with more confidence now that he's been the hero. Whatever it is, Dockery's seven points, seven rebound, four assist, two steal day while committing just two turnovers in 34 minutes is a continued step in developing a more potent offensive attack in Durham.
Shooting Performance: Free throw shooting always been a problem for Duke. For whatever reason the Blue Devils have had trouble hitting them. On Saturday that wasn't the case as Duke knocked down 23-of-24 attempts from the stripe, including 19 consecutive conversions to sap any hope of a Texas comeback. It wasn't like Redick was the only one hitting them either. Shelden Williams shot 90% from the line (9-of-10), while the rest of the team knocked down all their attempts with Paulus hitting four, Redick six, Dockery and Jamal Boykin added two each.
The charity stripe wasn't the only place Duke excelled offensively. The Blue Devils hit 12-of-22 from behind the three point line (54.5%) and shot 53.4% from the field for the game. Only Eric Boateng (0-for-1) and Lee Melchionni (1-for-3) shot below 50% from either the perimeter or the field.
What Went Wrong:
It's nitpicking, but there was still evidence of an inability to stop dribble penetration. However, Duke adjusted to that weakness and prevented Texas' desire to create off the dribble drive with the half court trap. Still, had the Longhorns not been knocked out midway through the second half, it could have turned interesting for Duke had the continued to give Gibson or even Tucker a chance to create.
Player of the Game:
Every time it seemed as thought Texas was getting fired up on a Lamarcus Aldridge jam or anything P.J. Tucker did (even talking to Redick), it was Duke's All-American who knocked them back with a huge shot. Perhaps the best example was when Shelden Williams fell down with the ball and still managed to kick it to Redick, who knocked down the perimeter jumper. For his career effort, Redick is our TDD Player of the Game.
The Blue Devils return home for final exams before returning to the hardwood on December 18th for a non-conference battle against Valparaiso.