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Duke Rolls Over Kentucky, 89-68
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Duke Rolls Over Kentucky, 89-68
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Duke Rolls Over Kentucky, 89-68
By Rob Clough
December 21, 2014


Analysis and Stats (JS)



In memory of Jim Sabiston

Why Duke Won: Though they turned the ball over 25 times, Duke did a good job of attacking the press and did well in sharing the ball in the halfcourt. Duke's offensive efficiency and the usual good job on the boards was especially notable given the quality of opponent.

Why Kentucky Lost: They took some bad shots, but given an astounding 28 more field goal attempts than Duke, they simply had some shots go in and out. The real problem is that Kentucky did a poor job of containing Duke off the dribble and didn't do enough to disrupt their offense. One got the sense that the Wildcats wanted to get into a shootout, only they forgot their ammunition.

The Game Turned When...: Duke turned back a big second half run that brought Kentucky to within 11 points with 6 straight points. That clearly gave Duke the confidence to finish the job after they had blown leads against South Carolina and Texas A&M.

X-Factor: Mercedes Riggs. Getting four points, a steal and a rebound in just four minutes of play at a crucial time in the game has to give both Duke and Riggs that she can not only hold the course when Johnson's out of the game, she can actually make positive plays. She's been slowly playing better the past few games and will need to carry that improvement into ACC play.

Areas For Improvement: Once again, decision-making and ball-handling were real issues. Kentucky wasn't doing a lot of scoring without help from Duke. Another issue was giving up 26 offensive rebounds. Duke was actually in OK rebounding position for many of them, but simply didn't chase the ball.

Ramifications: Getting a win over a higher-ranked team is just what the doctor ordered for Duke going into the ACC season. It also points to their improvement as a team, that some lessons were learned in bitter, close losses.

Duke Starters (from post to point)

Elizabeth Williams

 
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This was a solid game from Liz, especially on the boards. She was grabbing tough boards all game long. What was especially heartening was seeing the development of her overall game on offense, as she drew double-teams and passed out of them to generate scores. Her turnovers were problematic, but considering the pressure Kentucky put on her, not too surprising. It was interesting to see her dribble up the floor instead of simply waiting to be bailed out by a guard. That didn't always result in a positive result (there was one memorable charge), but it also helped give Duke some forward momentum against a relentless, withering press. By the end of the game, Duke looked fresh and it was Kentucky taking tired shots and making tired passes, which was the result of a game's worth of frenetic activity that didn't yield results.


Azurá Stevens

 
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On a team with an All-American like Williams and excellent talents like Calhoun and Greenwell, Azurá is rapidly becoming Duke's best overall player. She's racking up rebounds and scoring in a variety of ways, most of them efficient. While she concentrates on attacking the basket and posting up, she can also hit threes and pull-up perimeter shots from just about anywhere. She's too quick for most fours to guard and too big for most wings or guards to handle. Her handle is still a work in progress and she can certainly be knocked off her spot because of her lack of upper-body strength, but she's so quick and aggressive that she can be tough to stop. In this game, she was the one player Kentucky had no answer for. She sparked Duke in the beginning of the game and then overpowered Kentucky when they pulled within 11 points. Duke was smart to go to her repeatedly during that period, especially since she's also improving as a foul shooter.


Sierra Calhoun

 
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Sierra is not only rapidly improving against top-flight competition, she's proving that she can play huge minutes while doing it. While her shot selection is still somewhat questionable (she takes too many threes, too early in the shot clock), her willingness to sacrifice her body in attacking the basket makes her a dynamic presence that is a crucial element for the team's overall chemistry. The drive she had for a three point play was just a pure, explosive burst of quickness and skill. The pass she made to Williams late in the game showed off her creativity and unselfishness. She's slowly learning that she doesn't have to do it all on offense, and she can use her skills to make things easier for others. Another positive in this game was her getting 7 rebounds; the Devils need great rebounding from the guards and wing to be a truly dominant team on the boards.


Rebecca Greenwell

 
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Another somewhat quiet double-figure scoring game for Rebecca. She didn't blast away from the perimeter; instead, she picked her spots and was quite happy to mix it up down low. Her five rebounds showed that she's not at all afraid of contact, while her four assists show that she's always looking to get others involved. She had a couple of bad turnovers, but Duke did a much better job of protecting her than in past games, when she was simply asked to do too much. The jump shot she hit to end Kentucky's last threat was absolutely clutch. Her defense was also better than it had been, as she moved well and flowed better with her teammates.


Ka'lia Johnson

 
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This was a pretty good game by KJ. She kept her turnovers mostly under control, did a great job delivering tough passes to the right places, and played solid perimeter defense. Her three came late in the game, but it was her foul shooting that proved to be key during the course of the game. Duke survived when she was out of the game, but they thrived when she was in.



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Off the Duke Bench (in order of entry)

Oderah Chidom

 
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Oderah continues to be a tough cover. While her lack of upper-body strength was telling when she got pushed around going after boards, her agility left her open for several key shots late in the first half, when she scored 6 of her 10 points. In the second half, she was able to drive all the way to the hoop as Kentucky failed to stop the ball.


Amber Henson

 
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Given the opponent, this may have been Amber's finest game. With Stevens and Williams both out with two fouls apiece, She anchored a huge 22-6 Duke run with 7 points, 2 assists and a rebound. That included a rare three and some tough post finishes. Defensively, she blocked shots and intimidated down low in Williams' absence.


Mercedes Riggs

 
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Her fine stats have been noted elsewhere. The best thing about her performance is that she didn't look out of place, she wasn't blown by on defense and she simply looked comfortable running the offense. If she can give Duke five to ten solid minutes a game during the year, the Devils will have a chance to do some things.


Erin Mathias

 
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Erin got a cameo but not much more.


Jenna Frush

 
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Jenna got a cameo and directed the offense well while she was out there.


Kendall Cooper

 
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Kendall got a cameo but still managed to get a board, a block and get to the line. With Belton injured, she has a real opportunity to fight her way back into the rotation, yet was last off the bench tonight.




Duke Rolls Over Kentucky, 89-68
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Duke Rolls Over Kentucky, 89-68
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