East Rutherford, NJ – The touted Duke freshmen were on full display Thursday night, leading the Blue Devils to a 66-56 win over Connecticut. The trio of Tyus Jones, Jahlil Okafor, and Justise Winslow combined for 45 points, 19 rebounds, and seven assists in the win.
Jones led the way with 21 points, six rebounds, and three assists on 5-of-11 shooting. The 6-foot-1 point guard was aggressive when attacking the rim and a confident shooter when left open. He was 2-of-6 from three-point range and 9-of-10 from the free throw line. While Jones isn’t the most athletic point guard, he’s a mature floor general that excels on the offensive end.
Okafor had 12 points on 3-of-5 shooting, but was the clear difference-maker for Duke. The mammoth 7-footer had to be doubled on every catch and showed the ability to pass out of double-teams. He’s gifted with great hands and rare quickness for anyone with his size. Okafor’s highlight play came when he spun off a defender for a dunk in the second half. He also did a good job drawing contact and getting opponents in foul trouble. Okafor got to the foul line consistently, although he converted just 6-of-11 free throw attempts (perhaps his lone blemish on the evening). He’s a future NBA star and this year’s leader for the number one pick.
Winslow added 12 points, five rebounds, and two assists on 4-of-10 shooting. He made his biggest contributions on the defensive end, as the 6-foot-6 freshman uses his athleticism and length to disrupt an offensive game plan. Winslow was 1-of-3 from three-point range and if he continues to shoot it well, he should be a top ten pick in this year’s draft.
The upperclassmen, Quinn Cook and Amile Jefferson, have been unsung heroes early on and continued their strong play against Connecticut. Cook scored 10 points on 3-of-9 shooting while Jefferson contributed 11 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. They’ve been great complimentary pieces that will need to play at a high level if Duke wants to make a run at the national title.
For Connecticut, senior Ryan Boatright did all he could for the Huskies. The 6-foot point guard finished with 22 points, seven rebounds, three steals, and two assists while shooting 7-of-13 from the floor and 3-of-5 from deep. He’s a fearless competitor that plays with loads of energy and an unmatched passion for the game. Boatright lacks ideal size, but is an exceptional ball handler that uses his quickness to create his own offense. He uses an array of moves to shed defenders, but really excels with a left to right crossover. If he doesn’t find an NBA roster spot, Boatright should be a coveted international prospect.
After scoring 40 points against Coppin State, Amida Brimah was held scoreless against Duke. The 7-foot sophomore was in foul trouble from the start and fouled out after seeing just 13 minutes of floor time.
Freshman Daniel Hamilton looks like a future NBA talent, but could use added development at the collegiate level to grow into a top draft prospect. He scored 10 points and grabbed five rebounds in the loss. Sophomore forward Kentan Facey added 14 points and nine rebounds.
Duke is now 10-0 with impressive wins over Michigan State, Wisconsin, and now Connecticut. While the Blue Devils didn’t schedule the toughest non-conference slate, they look like legitimate title contenders. Connecticut, now 4-4, has lost four of its last five games and will look to rebound against Columbia.
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