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Duke Debacle

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From the BON Duke / Texas preview post:

Keys to Victory:
Duke: Duke must get big offensive games from both JJ Redick and Shelden Williams. Williams must also stay out of foul trouble and control the defensive glass.  This year Redick has added a dribble drive to go with his amazing range.  If Craig Winder or Tucker isn't able to control Redick, it could be a long afternoon for the Horns. Duke must also score in transition to get the partisan NY/NJ fans involved early.  Last, the Devils must rebound well. Texas outrebounds opponents by double digits a regular basis.  If Duke wants to hold onto their number one ranking, they can't allow Texas to score on easy putbacks.  

Duke did all of that and a whole lot more on Saturday afternoon in the Meadowlands.  Duke destroyed Texas, 97-66, leaving no doubt who was the best team at this point in the season.  The Horns fell behind basically from the opening tip and never fully recovered.  Rick Barnes' club was down 45-33 at halftime and looked to be forcing the action on a stage on which they were not familiar.  The Horns did rally early in the second half though. Duke's lead was cut to five, 47-42, before the Devils destroyed Texas the rest of the way ending the game on a 50-24 run.  

This was supposed to be a close game. The linesmakers made Duke just a two point favorite. Texas came into the game rolling. The Horns had destroyed their last four opponents by an average of 32 points per game.  And Duke came into the game having struggled with Virginia Tech and Pennsylvania and was without starting small forward DeMarcus Nelson.  But Duke and Redick came to play and Texas looked lost.

Why Duke Won
Duke got a career best game from JJ Redick (41 points) and a solid game from Shelden Williams (23 points, 6 rebounds).  They also controlled the tempo using their defense.  Led by a solid defensive performance from point guard Sean Dockery, Duke forced 16 Texas turnovers and scored easily in transition all game long.  Duke also controlled the glass enough.  Texas lives off their advantage on the glass.  Before the Duke game, Texas was averaging 13 rebounds more than their opponents. On Saturday, the smaller and slower Duke Blue Devils outrebounded Texas 31-30. Lastly, Duke attacked the rim.  Duke used dribble penetration by Greg Paulus and Sean Dockery to get easy looks for Williams and to draw fouls.  Duke shot 23/24 from the foul line.  Texas was only 9/12 from the line.  

What Texas Must Do Better
Texas played poorly against Duke.  They were not awful.  Duke was fantastic and got one of the best performances I have ever seen on the college level from Redick. There are very few teams in the country that can beat Duke if Redick scores 41 and they shoot 53% as a team.  That said, I expected a much better performance from the Horns.  Texas barely came away looking like a top 10 team.  But there is a ton of talent on this year's team and this team will only get better.  

  1. Texas must execute better in the half court.  Smart coaches will take away Texas' ability to score easy buckets in transition as Coach K did.  The Horns must be able to move the ball effectively and get good looks even against set defenses.  This starts with Daniel Gibson. Gibson has been hot and cold this year.  For the Horns to succeed this season, Texas must have consistent and solid performances from Gibson.  He needs to take the ball to the basket with more regularity.  When he drives, the defense will be forced to collapse leaving open three point shooters like Paulino and AJ Abrams and open big men like Lamarcus Aldridge and Brad Buckman.  Secondly, Aldridge should touch the ball on just about every offensive possession.  For only the second time all year, Aldridge did not have a double-double (21 points, 6 rebounds). He is too talented to just score on offensive rebounds.  Get him involved early and often.  
  2. The Horns need more substantial bench production.  In our tough games this season, Barnes has stayed almost exclusively with our starting five and Abrams.  Mike Williams must continue to develop his offensive skills, especially if the injury to Brad Buckman is serious. JD Lewis and Craig Winder have to be able to contribute valuable minutes by hitting open shots, taking care of the basketball, and playing solid defense.  Our bench scored only two points against Duke. That is unacceptable. We will not win the Big 12 or go deep in March with only six players and no frontcourt subs.
  3. In tough situations, Texas must stay composed.  From the very beginning of the game, a couple of guys looked to be pressing and not playing to their strengths.  Twice Buckman tried to hit jumpshots off the dribble.  Paulino repeatedly took the ball to the rim with limited success.  And PJ Tucker appeared to be playing a game of one-on-one with Redick during the second half.  On offense, Aldridge should be touching the ball on the low block, Gibson should be penetrating, Paulino should be spotting up, Tucker should be creating shots for himself and open looks for others with the ball on the wing, and Buckman should be stretching the defense with his ability to hit the open three and crashing the boards with each shot by a teammate.  
  4. Defense.  Duke looked like the better, quicker defensive team on Saturday.  Duke players were the ones denying the ball and forcing the Horns to initiate their offense from thirty feet away from the basket.  Texas must play better defense.  We cannot allow an opponent to shoot over 50% and expect to win.  The Longhorns must force turnovers and turn them into easy offense. Duke committed only seven turnovers.  
This was a depressing but not a devastation loss.  No college basketball coach wants his team to peak too soon.  Lucky for us, that hasn't happened.  Texas got a reality check.  They came into the game with a #2 ranking, that as Barnes said they hadn't earned.  They left the game with a laundry list of ways to improve before getting close to that #1 ranking again.  The Horns' next game is Saturday December 17th at home against Tennessee.

What did I miss?