The Duke basketball team moved to 9-1 on Tuesday night with an 84-74 win over Florida in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden.
It was Duke’s second win over a ranked opponent this season as the Gators entered the contest ranked No. 21 in the AP Poll.
Here are five key things from the win.
1. Luke Kennard is a potential All-American.
Scoring 29 points against a quality opponent on the national stage at Madison Square Garden might be enough to give Luke Kennard the credit he deserves as one of the best players in the country this season. The sophomore guard has been an incredibly efficient scorer for the Blue Devils, averaging 20.4 points while shooting 52% from the field, 41% from 3-point range, and 88% from the free throw line.
2. Amile Jefferson has been Duke’s best all-around player.
Luke Kennard might be the guy who starts receiving more national attention because of his incredible offensive skills, but Amile Jefferson has been the MVP of this year’s team. The fifth year senior continues to establish himself as one of the most consistent low-post scorers in the country, which was on display last night as he scored a career high 24 points and 15 rebounds. He also continues to play his typical outstanding defense. In Ken Pomeroy’s Player of the Year Rankings, Jefferson is No. 3 on the list, immediately followed by Kennard at No. 4.
3. Jayson Tatum is going to be special.
It doesn’t take much to notice that Jayson Tatum is going to be star at the collegiate level. Tatum came off the bench in last night’s win to contribute 22 points and 8 rebounds on 7-of-12 shooting in what felt like an effortless performance in 29 minutes. At 6’8”, the freshman has a presence on the court where he seems to be playing the game at a different speed than those around him.
4. Let Grayson Allen rest for a few weeks.
You hate to make a guy as competitive as Grayson Allen miss any time on the court, but it would probably be best for him and the team if the junior guard and Preseason National Player of the Year could take a few weeks off. Allen has been battling injuries throughout the first few weeks of the season, and he’s clearly struggling with his explosiveness, a key part of his game. With Luke Kennard playing so well and Jayson Tatum working his way back into the lineup, Coach K could use the holiday break as a time to give Allen some badly needed rest.
5. Duke’s perimeter defense is still a work in progress.
The Blue Devils had trouble allowing dribble penetration against Florida on Tuesday night, bringing back a recurring theme that has plagued Duke teams over the past few years. While Luke Kennard is an incredible scorer, his defense still has a ways to go, and Frank Jackson is still adjusting to playing aggressive perimeter defense without fouling. Add in a hobbled Grayson Allen and you get a lineup that is susceptible to being exposed by athletic guards who can get in the lane. We’ll see if Duke can get this cleaned up before conference play begins.
What were your impressions of the win? Let us know on Twitter at @DukeReport.