After having trouble defensively in their 83-74 win over East Carolina on Tuesday night, No. 6 Duke had their hands full with the Vermont Catamounts on Sunday evening. Thanks to a Rodney Hood free throw with five seconds remaining and Vermont not attempting a shot in time on the ensuing possession the Blue Devils escaped with a 91-90 victory. But with the amount of talent on Mike Krzyzewski’s team, with freshman Jabari Parker (26 points, nine rebounds) leading the way, beating Vermont in late-November isn’t the standard for this group.
And that’s what makes their performance on the defensive end so concerning as they prepare for a trip to New York for the NIT Season Tip-Off semifinals.
Vermont shot 64.8% from the field for the game, with Pepperdine transfer Hector Harold (24 points) and starting forward Clancy Rugg (20) leading four Catamounts in double figures. Through the use of proper spacing Vermont was able to find quality looks throughout the night, and during much of the second half Duke looked ill-equipped to get the stops needed to win the game.
Vermont finished the game with an offensive efficiency of 142.4 and an effective field goal percentage of 68.9%, but Duke won in the end because of Hood’s ability to attack the basket on the game’s deciding play and their overall ability to go “shot for shot” with the upstarts from America East. But in order for the Blue Devils to be a true national title contender they have to get better at keeping teams out of the paint.
Some may say that the Blue Devils need a “rim protector” of sorts to emerge, but where is that player coming from? 7-footer Marshall Plumlee, who didn’t see any action on Sunday night, is averaging just five minutes per game and neither Josh Hairston nor Amile Jefferson fits the “rim protector” role. That’s why Duke has to improve defensively in regards to both individual and team defense. There’s no “last line of defense” at present time, and it’s difficult to see such an option developing based upon the available options.
The Blue Devils are good enough offensively to beat most teams regardless of their issues on the defensive end. But in order to be one of the nation’s elite and challenge for a national title, the current effort being given defensively won’t cut it. Duke may not have lost on Sunday, but it became even more evident that the Blue Devils have a lot of work to do when it comes to stopping the opposition.
Notre Dame shot over 70 percent on 21 3-point shot attempts.
It wasn’t enough.
Tenth-ranked Florida State became the first ACC team to defeat the Fighting Irish with a 83-80 win Wednesday night in Tallahassee.
Johnathan Isaac had 23 points and 10 rebounds for the Seminoles, who moved into a tie for the ACC lead along with Notre Dame and North Carolina, which all sport 5-1 league records. The ‘Noles shot 50 percent from the floor and had 39 points off their bench.
The Fighting Irish made 15 of 21 3-point shots on the night, getting six from Matt Farrell and five apiece from VJ Beachem and Steve Vasturia
Florida State continues the ACC gauntlet with a home test against Louisville on Saturday while the Irish have Syracuse in South Bend on Saturday.
The suspension that Arizona guard Allonzo Trier is currently serving is due to positive test for performance-enhancing drugs during the preseason, sources told NBC Sports.
Trier has missed the first 18 games of the season.
According to ESPN, who first reported the news, Trier has been cleared by the NCAA after an appeal, but he cannot suit up for the Wildcats until the drug is completely out of his system.
There is no timetable for his return, but the door is open for a return.
As a freshman last season, Trier averaged 14.8 points and shot 36.4 percent from three. He was Arizona’s best isolation scorer and their leading returning scorer.
Without Trier, Arizona has looked like a Pac-12 title contender. They are 16-2 on the season and undefeated in league play heading into their games at the LA schools this weekend.
In a battle of undefeated SEC programs, Frank Martin’s club came out on top.
Sindarius Thornwell finished with 20 points and six boards and Chris Silva added 11 points as No. 24 South Carolina landed a come-from-behind, 57-53 win over No. 19 Florida in Columbia on Wednesday night.
With the win, the Gamecocks remain undefeated in the SEC and just a half-game behind Kentucky atop the conference standings.
It was the first conference loss for Florida, who is among a handful of teams that have the look and computer numbers of a tournament team but who have yet to put together the wins they need to back that up.
Indiana’s tumultuous season may have encountered some more adversity.
Hoosiers sophomore forward OG Anunoby left Wednesday’s game against Penn State after going down clutching his right knee in the first half.
The incident came at the end of the first half, and Anunoby did not start the second half with the Hoosiers.
The 6-foot-8 Anunoby is averaging 11.4 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game while shooting 56.5 percent from the floor. He’s considered a potential lottery pick in June’s NBA draft.
Indiana was already without forward Juwan Morgan against the Nittany Lions due to a foot injury.
The Hoosiers, who opened the season ranked 11th in the AP poll, are currently 12-6 overall and 2-3 in the Big Ten, with losses in four of their last six games.
St. John’s has officially cut ties with Zach Brown.
Brown, a top-50 recruit, was released from his National Letter of Intent with the school Wednesday, just days after he was arrested for theft in Florida.
“It was a mutual decision to release Zach from his national letter of intent,” St. John’s coach Chris Mullin said in a statement released by the school. “We wish him the best of luck.”
Brown was arrested after allegedly reaching into a cash register and stealing money from it earlier this month. He was charged with a misdemeanor.
The arrest only adds to the list of issues for Brown as he was charged with a felony of credit card and robbery in May 2016. He was also dismissed from a school in Connecticut not long after enrolling after allegedly getting into a fight.
At one time, Brown was a top-10 recruit in 2017 and committed to UConn, but his off the court issues has resulted in the diminishing on-court opportunities available to him.