First half/intro

Duke vs. Kansas was the first matchup of the night in the State Farm Champions Classic. Duke was ranked #4 heading into the game, while Kansas was ranked #3. Duke has a ton of new faces, and are led by Sophomore Tre Jones, and the freshman trio of Vernon Carey, Cassius Stanley, and Matthew Hurt. Kansas is led by three returners in Udoka Azubuike, Devon Dotson, and Marcus Garrett. The strength of Duke’s team is their athleticism and pressure defense, while the strength of Kansas is their size and strength. Both teams are weak at shooting, and this hurts their floor spacing, which could come to haunt both of them in post-season play. Duke’s spacing is a little better, because their starting 4 Matthew Hurt is a good shooter, and their 5 Vernon Carey can make the open shot. Duke’s main offensive attack is ball screens for Jones, While Kansas tries to get it inside to Azubuike. Duke double-teamed all post catches.

Kansas does a great job of taking advantage of Duke’s pressure defense on this play with a great blind pig action to get Agjabi a layup.

On this play Delaurier has to cut straight to the center of the rim, if he does Agjabi needs to get in front of him or else he has an open dunk, and this would put Dotson in a tough situation in between Stanley and Jones, and would likely result in an open three. If it doesn’t result in an open three it will at least get Kansas in a scramble closeout situation, which is good for the offense.

Instead of all this happening Moore throws the ball to right to Agjabi, but this could have easily been prevented if Delaurier cut to the right spot.

The whole first half Duke did a great job of icing the side Pick and Roll, and they destroyed Kansas with it. For those that don’t know Icing the Pick and Roll means forcing the ball handler away from the screen. This works very well often because it keeps the ball out of the middle of the floor, and especially did this game because the big guys on Kansas don’t have the skill to make good decisions in the short roll, so it was rare they had the ball thrown to them in those situations, and when they did they rarely made good decisions.

This is awful spacing by Duke. Goldwire blows by Dotson, which is the best way to alleviate pressure, and he should have created an advantage and had many options here, but he doesn’t because Duke is running an action with everybody in the lane. This puts a lot of pressure on the Point Guard because he has nowhere to go in the lane when he’s being pressured, and Goldwire almost turns it over here because of that awful spacing.

I like the action Duke used where they throw the ball to one of their bigs at the elbow, then have many different options to use out of it. Throwing the ball to the elbow is underutilized in today’s game, especially in college. Kansas did an awful job taking care of the ball the entire first half, and it was partly because of Duke’s good pressure defense, but it wasn’t all because of the pressure. Dotson is the only great ball-handler on the team, and even he had a rough time with a 1-6 A-To ratio for the game. Their awful spacing was also a reason why because it makes passing angles tighter, and the refs did call a few questionable travel calls, which happens often early in the season. Kansas ended the half with a 6-18 A-To ratio and still were only down 30-33.

Second half/Summary

Kansas got another layup off of a blind pig action, this is a great way to take advantage of Duke’s pressure, and they should have tried this more often, because either they would have kept getting layups, or Duke would have to pressure less. This was a hard look for Kansas to get though because their bigs are not the best passers.

Carey has to flash or set a screen off the ball here. Because he isn’t Azubuike can help on the lob with Dotson fronting Hurt in the post, and that ruins the mismatch Duke created. If Carey flashes middle Azubuike has to go with him, or Carey catches wide open at the free-throw line. Carey could also screen away because Azubuike is so focused on the lob that he isn’t watching Carey, so if Carey screens away there would be no help on the screen.

Duke had a run of horrible defense early in the second half, and because of this Kansas regains the lead. They seemed to be having communication issues, and communication is a huge part of defense. Kansas started the half with a 5-0 A-To ratio because of Duke’s horrible defense.

O’Connell hesitates on this three and misses, people rarely make it when they hesitate because it means they thought about it, and players at their best when they are playing off instinct and not thinking at all.

Wendell Moore is over aggressive on this curl to the baseline, and Kansas gets a steal then gets fouled in transition to go up 9. This was smart of Kansas to force Moore to curl to the baseline because the man guarding the inbounder is right there, so this forces Moore to curl right into him. Moore has to see this, and not the force issue. Wendell Moore was over-aggressive all game, and he needs to do a better job of trying to score within the flow of the offense instead of forcing the issue.

Agbaji, number 30 can shoot, and #13 came higher on the court, so this opens up the lob to Azubuike and he gets fouled. Agjabi gets no credit for this, but if there were a non-shooter in that corner Stanley could help on the lob, and it wouldn’t be open. Shooters affect the game by more than just making shots, they open up things for teammates, spacing is everything on offense.

The rest of the game Kansas started playing sloppy with turnovers again, and Duke made some big plays down the stretch to win 68-66. The reason it was only a 2 point game was that Devon Dotson made a three at the buzzer to cut the lead from 5 to 2 when the result of the game wasn’t in question. Both teams played poorly offensively, Duke had .773PPP, and Kansas had .736PPP. Duke had .75PPP on Jones Pick and Rolls which is surprising considering how crafty he is in the Pick and Roll. This is probably because his options are limited because Duke doesn’t have good spacing because of their lack of shooting. Kansas did a horrible job of finishing at the rim, they had .828PPP at the rim, and this is because the lane is so crowded for them because Duke can pack the lane because of their horrible shooting. One thing that confused me about Duke’s defense was how close they played to Marcus Garrett, who is a great driver and below-average shooter. He was able to get in the lane a lot, Duke should have done a better job cutting off his driving lanes because it is a win for the defense if he takes a jumper. Both these teams are very exposable offensively because of the lack of shooting, and if they don’t change their lineups, or have guys improve shots they could be out earlier than expected in March.

Stats

Duke

Points: 68

FG: 23/64

3FG: 8/24

FT: 14/23

A-TO Ratio: 12-16

Offensive Rebounds: 11

Kansas

Points: 66

FG: 23/50

3FG: 4/9

FT: 16/26

A-TO Ratio: 13-28

Offensive Rebounds: 10