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Blue Review: A 2021-22 Duke Basketball Recap – Game 3 vs Campbell

Duke Basketball

Duke Basketball
Duke held on to beat Campbell 67-56 in an ugly and slow basketball game. Banchero and Moore led the way, but frontcourt questions remain. (Photo by Robert Willett/The News & Observer/[email protected])

Blue Review: A 2021-22 Duke Basketball Recap – Game 3 vs Campbell

It wasn’t pretty, but Duke got it done in the second game of its back-to-back Veterans Day weekend basketball slate. The Blue Devils held on to beat Big South contender Campbell 67-56 in a low possession battle.

It was a game that was going to trouble Mike Krzyzewski’s squad from the jump. The Fighting Camels were undersized and knew they couldn’t get into a shootout with this Blue Devil squad. So, head coach Kevin McGeehan made it a slugfest, even jumping out to an early lead in the first half.

Duke went into halftime up a mere four points. They were able to extend that lead in the second half thanks to the quartet of Paolo Banchero, Wendell Moore Jr., Jeremy Roach and Joey Baker who combined for 58 of the team’s 67 points.

Paolo Banchero… Need I say more?

Banchero did what the Duke faithful and college basketball fans will expect of him all season. In a game against an undersized opponent, Banchero’s size and agility was tough to stop. He made quick work on the low block and also displayed his excellent mid-range game, referenced in one of my few Duke-related tweets on Saturday night. He led the Blue Devils with 18 points and seven rebounds – his five turnovers on the night are a tad concerning, but with his talent, you give him a pass for the time being.

Jeremy Roach

Roach was an offensive spark plug, oftentimes keeping Duke in the basketball game in the first 20 minutes. He loves that high pick-and-roll action, allowing him to get downhill and towards the left side of the rim. The former St. Paul VI high school star had 14 points and four assists against Campbell in 38 minutes of action. Again, he is playing off the ball a lot to start the season, but he is showing a much more consistent and improved approach from his freshman to sophomore season.

Senior superlative: Joey Baker lights out from deep

Now to senior co-captain Baker. The Fayetteville, North Carolina native added 11 points off the bench on 3-5 shooting from distance. Baker tallied 31 minutes of action against a very small and agile Campbell team. Where once we would’ve seen Baker be exposed on the defensive end, Saturday night he held his own. He did his job in knocking down some three-pointers in clutch moments, including one late in the second half that stifled any hopes of a Camel comeback.

X-factor: Wendell Moore Jr.

Finally, we get to Moore. Just 24 hours removed from a triple-double, the junior co-captain once again starred for the Dukies. Full transparency, he gave me a heart attack in the opening 10 seconds of play when he was helped off the court with an apparent injury. Obviously, by the nature of my writing, he made a return.

The 20-year-old poured in 15 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals, with only two turnovers to boot. Moore was rock solid on the night and that is what this Duke basketball team will need in these low possession, defensive games come conference play. I highlighted Moore as the potential X-factor for this Blue Devil squad for much of the offseason, and his +/- tally of 38 through three games is indicative of his importance to this team.

Frontcourt woes

Campbell’s small-ball line-ups, in addition to their methodical pace in the halfcourt, made this game tough for both Mark Williams and Theo John. The pair of Duke centers were only on the court for a combined 14 minutes.

The pair’s agility was tested throughout and they were simply unable to stick with the Camel guards when put in perimeter defending situations. That’s not their fault obviously, but it was just one of those games where the potential dominance Duke’s frontcourt possesses was unable to fully be on display. It’s too early to be concerned with Williams’ lack of production – he had a +/- of -1 on the night – but the Gonzaga game on Nov. 26 will be a good indicator of what his role truly is in this squad.

The rest of the freshmen

All three freshmen were box score quiet, but for different reasons. A.J. Griffin played a mere six minutes, connecting on his one field goal attempt – a three. He still seems to be nursing that knee injury and Krzyzewski and company are clearly easing him back into the rotation.

As for Trevor Keels, the freshman just had an off night. He definitely forced some shots early in the shot clock to try and get going, but on a night where Baker and Roach picked up the slack, Duke could afford Keels’ struggles. His defensive impact was still invaluable as he is arguably the Blue Devils’ best on-ball defender. He had six points on 2-9 shooting, but did snag five rebounds and add three assists. It was a tough game for the opening night star.

And I have to give a shoutout to Jaylen Blakes. The four-star guard only featured for five or so minutes, but he kept some critical second half possessions alive for the Blue Devils. With the loss of Jordan Goldwire, Blakes is seemingly picking up right where the former left off. Blakes is a ball hawk, willing to guard on the perimeter and isn’t scared to fight in the paint. He earned massive respect in this game.

Next up: Gardner-Webb

Duke basketball gets a two-day rest before they take on Gardner-Webb on Tuesday. The Runnin’ Bulldogs were pegged to finish third in the Big South’s South division by media members in the preseason poll. There’s still a lot to clean up before ranked match-ups against Gonzaga and Ohio State to end the month, but all that matters right now is that the Blue Devils are 3-0.


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