The 2015-16 Duke basketball season came to a close in Anaheim on Thursday night with an 82-68 loss to Oregon in the Sweet 16.
It was a difficult night for the Blue Devils, who struggled to shoot the ball and were picked apart by Oregon’s versatile, athletic lineup.
Duke was led by freshman forward Brandon Ingram, who scored 24 points in what was likely his last game as a Blue Devil. Mike Krzyzewski recently said Ingram is expected to declare for the 2016 NBA Draft, where he has a good chance to be taken with the No. 1 overall pick.
Aside from Ingram’s strong night, Oregon was better in basically every other aspect of the game.
The Ducks did an outstanding job protecting the rim and neutralizing Duke’s attempts to drive to the basket with their length and shot blockers, led by Jordan Bell, who recorded three blocks.
We also saw why Dillon Brooks has been one of the best players in the Pac-12 this season and earned All-America honors. The sophomore forward finished with a team high 22 points to go along with 6 rebounds and 5 assists.
Oregon forced Grayson Allen into a difficult night as he scored 15 points and was just 4-of-13 from the field. Duke also didn’t get much from the rest of the lineup, with Matt Jones and Derryck Thornton both having poor performances.
As has been the case throughout the year, the biggest problem for the Blue Devils was on defense, where they allowed Oregon to shoot 43% from 3-point range and finish with an offensive efficiency rating of 119.2. When Duke needed to come up stops, it couldn’t get it done.
The loss means we’ve come to an end of a roller coaster season. We likely won’t see Brandon Ingram in a Duke uniform again and it may have been the last college game for Grayson Allen, who could be a potential first round pick in this summer’s draft.
There’s certainly plenty to be excited about for next year, though. With the young players on this year’s team, the plan for having Amile Jefferson back as a redshirt senior, and a freshman class that’s loaded with potential superstar talent, the Blue Devils should be a strong favorite to reach the 2017 Final Four.
After winning the 2015 national championship and losing so much to the NBA, this was always expected to be a transition year. It definitely had its ups and downs.
For now, let’s appreciate what this group accomplished, especially our senior leader Marshall Plumlee, and get excited for what’s to come next season.