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Duke Slams Oklahoma, 92-72
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Duke Slams Oklahoma, 92-72
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Duke Slams Oklahoma, 92-72
By Rob Clough
December 17, 2014


Analysis and Stats (JS)



In memory of Jim Sabiston

Why Duke Won: Duke turned a close game into a runaway with one simple step: cleaning up its turnovers. The Devils couldn't get out of their own way at times, as they'd make a great defensive stop and follow it up with a silly turnover. Once everyone simply focused and communicated a little better, Duke's natural advantages in this game took over.

Why Oklahoma Lost: The Sooners' strategy was a smart one, especially given Duke's tendency to give up certain kinds of perimeter shots. However, that kind of shooting is a real dice roll for a team, especially when there really isn't a plan "b". Going just 7-12 from the foul line (and 1-5 in the first half) hurt them badly as well.

The Game Turned When...: Duke went on a 12-0 run in the first half to erase a three point deficit and establish a comfortable working margin for the rest off the game. The best play in that sequence came when Johnson came up with a steal and threw a long bomb to a streaking Stevens, who caught the ball, scored and got fouled.

X-Factor: Points in the paint. Duke's 46-22 edge in this area cancelled out OU's 39 points from beyond the arc. The Sooners tried attacking the basket a few times and got off a few surprising shots that went in, but the lane was an unpleasant adventure for them on most plays. That was especially true of their guards, who simply weren't adept at attacking the basket.

Areas For Improvement: Taking care of the ball is the obvious take-away here, but rotating over to open shooters on a consistent basis and keeping a hand in an opponent's face were things that Duke failed to do on many possessions.

Ramifications: Duke got a much-needed and confidence-boosting win over a decent (but not great) opponent. Losing this game would have been devastating for Duke. Now they can look forward to trying to beat Kentucky and UMASS-Lowell before the holiday break.

Duke Starters (from post to point)

Elizabeth Williams

 
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A magnificent night for a fully engaged post who stayed out of foul trouble. She was teased by McCallie to match the 20 rebounds posted by men's player Jahlil Okafor, and then she went out and did it--with 14 in the first half alone. She was a fearsome player at both ends, as she was able to deflect several corner threes. One could tell that after she blocked a couple of shots, it made Oklahoma think twice about coming in at her or going near her at any time.


Azurá Stevens

 
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Another fine game from one of Duke's best freshmen ever. Her ability to score all over the floor and unassisted is a game-changer for Duke, who desperately needed another consistent scorer. She played both power forward and two-guard in this game, getting stickbacks and hitting long jumpers. She was also relocating the ball nicely, as she had assists to Riggs and Calhoun. Her toughness under the basket is remarkable when one considers how slender she is, but physical play doesn't seem to bother her one bit.


Sierra Calhoun

 
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Calhoun's sheer aggressiveness is something that can't be taught. She is always thinking about scoring, as on the first play of the game when she grabbed the ball and went straight to the rim. In terms of shot selection, she mostly did well. She hit a couple of corner threes, scored on that drive, then later had a steal & layup and then a post-up that led to a technical for OU coach Coale. Her seven turnovers are a big concern, as her decision-making isn't always the best. She also displayed some nice work on defense and did a better job of covering dangerous shooters in this game.


Rebecca Greenwell

 
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Despite yet another double-double for Greenwell (11 points, 10 rebounds), her performance was a quiet one. She hit a three and a short jumper in the first half and grabbed a bunch of boards. She scored on a nice post-up in the second half but never really broke out comfortably. Throw in some bad communication and sloppy ballhandling from both her and her teammates and you had a game that was full of energy but not efficiency. Still, Oklahoma had to respect her as a threat, even when she had to act as point guard and couldn't just wait for the ball to get swung around to her.


Ka'lia Johnson

 
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This was a solid all-around performance for KJ, one that played primarily to her strengths. Johnson is an aggressive penetrator, and in this game she went to the foul line eight times Her only other field goal attempt was a good-looking three point shot. She had some killer passes that resulted in fast break layups. While she did have three turnovers, one was an offensive foul that could have gone either way. She did take a charge and forced a held ball, in addition to coming up with some open-court thefts. Her strengths are defense and energy, and she provided her team with a lot of both in this game.



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Off the Duke Bench (in order of entry)

Amber Henson

 
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This was a quiet showing for Amber, who took just a single shot. However, whenever she was around the basket on defense, she made a play. She's been benched not so much because of poor play, but because Stevens is really starting to blossom as an all-around threat.


Lyneé Belton

 
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Her injury late in the game was a huge downer, because she displayed a nice rapport with Duke's other bigs in the low post. The way she used her size to seal off her opponent when Williams delivered an on-target high post pass and easily score was tantalizing as to her future. She had secured the backup spot to Williams and played a lot of meaningful moments before she got hurt. Her last score was a surprisingly nimble drive to the basket, showing that there's more to her game than simple power. Hopefully the injury was not as serious as it looked, because Belton certainly has a bright future.


Mercedes Riggs

 
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When Duke's ballhandling went all over the map for a few minutes in the first half and Johnson went out of the game with two fouls, Mercedes came in and did a good job of calming everyone down. She didn't do anything spectacular, but instead simply managed the game, took care of the ball and even got a couple of assists. She was rewarded in the second half for her service by hitting a three.


Erin Mathias

 
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Erin struggled a bit in this game. She quickly picked up fouls whenever she entered the game, and she blew what was otherwise a spectacular drive to the basket. She did hit a foul shot and got some experience against a good opponent.


Jenna Frush

 
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It was nice to see Jenna get some first-half time, but she didn't mesh well on defense on that last play of the half, allowing an open shot at the buzzer.


Oderah Chidom

 
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Oderah's contributions came at a critical time, as Duke blew open the game with an 8-0 run. Her stickback and later dish to Calhoun prompted a technical foul by Coale, giving Duke an even bigger lead. Later in the game, she had a fantastic spin drive to the basket.


Kendall Cooper

 
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Kendall was the last player off the bench, and while she missed a shot, she did dive after a loose ball.




Duke Slams Oklahoma, 92-72
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Duke Slams Oklahoma, 92-72
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