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A&M Comeback Foils Devils, 63-59
The Nutshell
Preview: #9 Duke at #12 Nebraska
A&M Comeback Foils Devils, 63-59
By Rob Clough
November 30, 2014

Analysis and Stats (JS)

In memory of Jim Sabiston
Why Texas A&M Won: Sometimes the statistics tell the whole story. The Aggies had a 18-0 edge in fast break points and 16-4 edge in points off turnovers. That was just enough to counter Duke's 18-2 edge in second-chance points. The bottom line is that A&M was able to impose their will on the game just a bit more than Duke was.

Why Duke Lost: Duke faced a team that could put true pressure on them for the first time, and that included psychological pressure. Down the stretch, Duke cracked on several possessions and took bad shots instead of having the patience they displayed earlier in the game. That started to extend to the defensive side of things, where Duke stopped pressuring the Aggies and gave them some open looks.

The Game Turned When...: During Texas A&M's big second-half run, Duke ran a play long for Ka'lia Johnson. She didn't finish strong enough at the rim, A&M got the board and a quick basket. That was a four-point swing that proved to be the difference in the game.

X-Factor: Jordan Jones. She hit some key shots, but it was her all-around work that made her a crucial piece for A&M. In particular, she snagged several key rebounds and her 8 assists (many into the post) gave her team's offense some much-needed fluidity.

Areas For Improvement: Late-game execution, transition defense and shot selection all come to mind. Duke took too many quick perimeter shots instead of working the ball inside against A&M's mostly overmatched, young post players. All of these things should improve when Elizabeth Williams comes back, but this was certainly a good lesson for the younger players.

Ramifications: Duke blew a chance for a huge, resume'-building win against a higher-ranked opponent, and without their best player to boot. The overall lesson is one of patience and tempo: when Duke controlled tempo and took their time, they moved the ball well. When they tried to score too fast, they blew easy layups.

Duke Starters (from post to point)

Amber Henson


Amber was pressed into a career-high 32 minutes in this game, and the general rust on her offense was evident with her 1-8 shooting. Still, the team unquestionably played better when she was on the floor, with her defense, rebounding and shot-blocking. She had a couple of shots rattle out on her, but the reality is that Henson will never be an impact player on offense, but rather a solid glue player. Her passing was excellent, and she was one of the few Devils who was successful at making connecting plays. She also took a charge, which was a bit of a nerve-wracking moment because of her history of injuries, but also speaks to the kind of player that she is.

Oderah Chidom


When she was able to get good position inside, Oderah was highly effective. However, she was limited by foul trouble throughout the game. When she went out with her fourth foul in the second half, Duke's offense and defense collapsed for a while. The players have to be sensitive to how a game was being called, and illegal screens were being called out left and right in this game. Both players and coaches did a poor job in recognizing this and adjusting accordingly.

Sierra Calhoun


It's been a bit feast or famine for Sierra so far this season. The rule of thumb is that when she concentrates on defense and takes her time on offense, Duke gets "feast". When she's in too much of a hurry, it can lead to "famine" -- as her 1-9 shooting will attest. She did rebound well and was active to be sure, but for her it's a matter of efficiency. A&M was deliberately trying to speed the game up to a level far beyond she's ever experienced, and now she has an understanding of what that's like.

Rebecca Greenwell


Becca's effort level was heroic in this game, even if she was put in a position where being efficient and picking her spots wasn't an option for her. She got in a groove early, nailing threes and attacking the basket. She did a little of everything: score, pass, rebound, defend. It's clear that A&M coach Gary Blair ordered his team to defend her at all costs and leave other Duke players open, because Greenwell had a blanket on her in the second half. Down the stretch, she made some mistakes and lost the ball a few times. Overall, this frosh did a fine job of coming up big against a big-time opponent.

Ka'lia Johnson


This was frankly a brutal game for KJ at both ends. She rushed her shots, she took too many off-balance shots, and she didn't finish her drives strong. Johnson wasn't careful with the ball, and one could sense her trying too hard to influence the game as an individual and leader. She was going up against an intense defense in a tough building, and she will simply need to learn how to relax a bit more in future situations. Fortunately, she has another such challenge waiting for her this week.

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Off the Duke Bench (in order of entry)

Kendall Cooper


Duke needed aggressive players out there, but Kendall's propensity for fouling hurt what could have been a tremendous opportunity for her. Sometimes, she freezes up at the defensive end and doesn't get into a proper position--she's too rigid instead of making herself long. That takes her right out of the game. When she's relaxed, she has a remarkable feel for the game, especially at the offensive end. Translating being relaxed with being disciplined will be her journey this year.

Azurá Stevens


Azurá's composure is remarkable. She entered the game and immediately started wreaking havoc at both ends. Jump-hooks on the baseline, post-ups, stickbacks, reverse layups, turn-around jumpers, runners--she showed off a huge arsenal of moves. Throw in 6 offensive rebounds and you have a great performance. She did push a little too hard in the final couple of minutes, turning the ball over and taking some tough shots. She is certainly going to be a candidate for ACC Sixth Player of the Year if she continues at this rate.

Lyneé Belton


Lyneé did some good work in her career-high 17 minutes. Playing against a big-time opponent, she held her own on the boards, played solid defense and got a big tip-in. She used her size and power well. What she needs to learn is how to use a bit more finesse in getting to the basket, as she was called for an offensive foul and some moving screens. That said, her willingness to get physical is a gift many others do not possess, and this could wind up pushing her ahead in the rotation. Fitness will still be an issue, but that's something she can continue to address during the season.

A&M Comeback Foils Devils, 63-59
The Nutshell
Preview: #9 Duke at #12 Nebraska

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