Duke beats Alabama, headed to NIT Finals

After a terrible showing on Sunday night, Coach K changed up the Duke men’s basketball starting lineup for Wednesday night’s NIT Season Tip-Off semifinals. All three captains, Rodney Hood, Josh Hairston, and Tyler Thornton, were in the starting lineup. Unfortunately, none of them were effective in Duke’s 74-64 victory over Alabama.

nitThe sixth ranked Blue Devils will face number four Arizona on Friday night in the finals. The Wildcats squeaked by Drexel earlier in the night, 66-62.

Duke started out very slow, only making one of their first 11 shots. However, Alabama could not put them away because they kept turning the ball over. Duke took their first lead with 8:39 to go in the first half at 17-15. The Blue Devils went on to make 11 of their next 18 shots to take a 33-22 lead into the lockerroom at halftime.

The Duke defense was definitely better, holding Alabama to just 34.6% shooting in the first half. They held leading scorer Trevor Releford to zero points and zero shots in the first half. Oh and he committed three fouls in the first half. He ended up with 11 points on 2-of-7 shooting (he averaged 18 coming into the game).

However, the defense was not as good in the second half, as they blew double-digit leads multiple times. With four minutes to go, Alabama cut the deficit to 58-51, but could not get any closer. The athletic Crimson Tide continuously went inside, which is Duke’s weakness. They do not have a “true” center.

It was once again the Jabari Parker show, as the freshman scored 27 points on 9-of-12 shooting. It was his seventh straight game with 20+ points (Duke has only played seven games). He also hauled in eight rebounds, though he did commit five turnovers.

Parker did have some help and part of it came from fellow starter Quinn Cook. Cook scored 17 points on 6-of-14 shooting. He made 3-of-4 three pointers and hauled in four rebounds. On the negative side he committed four turnovers. His other scorer was fellow freshman Matt Jones, who came off the bench to score 13 points. He made 5-of-7 free throws, with many coming in the final minutes.

As a team, the Blue Devils committed a season-high 19 turnovers.

I mentioned the captains not being effective. Hood was in foul trouble the entire game and fouled out with about three minutes left in the game. He only scored eight points on 3-of-8 shooting. Hairston was the first Blue Devil to foul out and he only scored two points and did not have a second half rebound.

Thornton had the best game of the three captains: six points, four rebounds, four assists, and five steals. He also played good defense.

 

For Alabama, Nick Jacobs scored 18 points on 8-of-14 shooting off the bench. He also hauled in seven rebounds and blocked three shots. He was only averaging seven points a game. Algie Key chipped in 11 points off the bench.

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