DURHAM, NC – Duke used an early 12-2 run, forces 15 turnovers to power past the Pittsburgh Panthers 81-54.
Wendell Carter Jr opened the scoring for the game with a corner jumper to give Duke a 2-0 lead early. Freshman counterpart Marvin Bagley III continued the momentum with a dunk and three-pointer to put Duke up 7-0.
Pitt would get a layup to fall via Parker Stewart, but Carter Jr would answer back with four straight of his own after a Panther three-pointer by Khameron Davis to lead Pittsburgh 11-5.
Duke used a 12-2 run to take a 33-17 lead with 8:06 remaining in the half.
Carter Jr found Gary Trent Jr in the corner for a wide-open three-pointer to send the Blue Devils in to halftime with a 48-26 lead. Pitt ended the half with more turnovers (11) than field goals made (10).
Carter Jr led all scorer at half with 15 pts on 6-of-7 shooting effort from the field. Bagley III added 12 points and six rebounds to the slate as well
Duke would not look back in the second half as the Blue Devils go on to cruise to a 81-54 victory.
Defense was the name of the game for Duke, forcing Pittsburgh in to 15 total turnovers. Duke managed to score 24 points off 15 turnovers.
You could see guys like Grayson Allen smiling during the process of making the lives of the visiting opponents miserable, constantly in passing lanes and giving opponents no space to work on the offensive end. “I have not had much offense in the last six games, so I am having fun playing defense.”
You can tell that there has been a mindset change in the Duke locker room that has festered since the game at Miami in which Duke overcame a 12-point deficit twice to defeat the Hurricanes. In the Miami game, players were seen slapping the floor and you can hear the talk from the top of the arena.
“Defense, communication, and trust,” is the base to this new identity that Duke is rolling out according to Wendell Carter Jr. Carter Jr spoke about the ability to trust one another on the court on defense, because the offensive game will come naturally. This was seen tonight on Duke’s ability to get 24 points off 15 Pitt turnovers.
Coach K mentioned his team has finally developed a good base for their defense. They have consistent movement and talk on defense for the first time this season because each player understands what they are doing with their feet, hands, and movement when they make mistakes and when they succeed.
When it comes to the process of how his team came around to learning defense, Coach K compared it to learning how to dance. “your body does not just move like that, you have to learn” He and his staff are teaching the players how to “dance defensively” with “communication being the music” in hopes that his five players can all dance together.
Duke has forced 26 turnovers in the last two games. Look for the defensive effort to keep improving as Duke will make the short journey to Winston-Salem to face Wake Forest on Tuesday night. If Duke can continue to improve their team defense, the entire roster could be dancing come early April.