NCAA basketball action is well underway... - Second review (December 2016)

Florida Gators vs. Duke Blue Devils: 74-84 (played on 2016-12-06)
Score at the half: 31-41

The Jimmy V Classic was held at the Madison Square Garden in New York in early December 2016. Although they were still playing without young talent Harry Giles (knee surgery, 6'10", forward, age 18), the Duke Blue Devils moved to 9-1 season record and already had quality wins over Michigan State and Rhode Island to pair with the Florida victory. Duke's freshman Jayson Tatum (6'8", forward, age 18) also dealt with injury issues earlier in the season and played in just his second career collegiate game in the Jimmy V Classic final against the Gators on that day. With 22 points, 8 rebounds and a number of nice moves in transition, in the paint or on the high post, Tatum looked fit for the NBA.

The Gators could not have an answer for the Luke Kennard (6'5", guard/forward, age 20) and Amile Jefferson (6'9", forward, age 23) combination. Duke's star Luke Kennard recorded a game-high 29 points on 11-of-16 shooting from the field. There is something about Luke Kennard that makes me think of Larry Bird. Kennard's mate Amile Jefferson notched a double-double with 24 points and 15 rebounds.

The Gators started well in the game. They seized a 14-13 lead when Kasey Hill (6'1", guard, age 23) converted a bonus from the line after a nice basket. Florida was also bothering Duke's perimeter shooters and did not allow a single player outside of Jefferson and Kennard to score to that point.
However, the Florida Gators had five turnovers in the first 9 minutes of the game.
The back-and-forth pace continued throughout the first half. Two spectacular dunks by Amile Jefferson, within three possessions, gave the Blue Devils a 29-28 advantage. The second came off a perfectly placed pass from Luke Kennard.

The Florida Gators dropped to a season record of 7-2 and never recovered in the second half, after the Blue Devils closed the first one with an impressive 15-3 run. The dunks were part of Duke's run to end the first twenty minutes of play, which turned a 28-26 deficit into a 31-41 advantage for the Blue Devils. While Jayson Tatum scored the final basket of the half, it was Luke Kennard and Amile Jefferson of Duke who were largely responsible for the turnaround after the closely contested start.
KeVaughn Allen (6'2", guard, age 21) turned in an impressive offensive showing with 21 points for the Gators. Kasey Hill added 13 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists, while John Egbunu (6'11", center, junior) from Nigeria just missed a double-double with 9 points and 10 rebounds for Florida.
Nevertheless, the Gators as a whole shot 43.3 percent from the field and were outrebounded 35-30 in the game.
Florida felt better right after the break. John Egbunu dunked to cut the lead to 6 early in the second half and Duke's forward Matt Jones (6'5", guard, age 22) committed an intentional foul two possessions later. However, Egbunu missed both free throws, and Tatum pushed the lead back to 11 with a layup a few seconds later. The Gators missed the golden opportunity to cut in to the lead, but a Keith Stone (6'8", forward, freshman) three-pointer capped a 5-0 run to trim the lead to 53-44. That brief reaction quickly ended with a wide-open three from Luke Kennard to the joy of his coach, Mike Krzyzewski.
The Gators set a full-court press in an effort to inspire a comeback. It helped them climb to within 7 at 61-54 before yet another clutch Kennard three and Tatum layup in transition. The Gators remained neutral for much of the second period, but a three-pointer by Gator shooter Justin Leon (6'8", forward, senior) trimmed the deficit to 78-71 with less than three minutes remaining on the clock.

Luke Kennard, again, scored on a fast break and sunk two free throws to bury Florida at 82-71 with a bit more than one minute left.

The Duke Blue Devils eventually took down the Florida Gators in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Amile Jefferson had career highs of 24 points and 15 rebounds to lead Duke to an 84-74 victory over Florida.

Best scorers:
Florida: Devin Robinson 11, Justin Leon 7, John Egbunu 9, Kasey Hill 13, Kevaughn Allen 21, Kevarrius Hayes 2, Keith Stone 3, Canyon Barry 6, Chris Chiozza 2.
Duke: Amile Jefferson 24, Grayson Allen 6, Luke Kennard 29, Frank Jackson 3, Jayson Tatum 22.

Duke Blue Devils vs. Elon Phoenix: 72-61 (played on 2016-12-21)
Score at the half: 34-35

After having taken an 5-0 lead, the Blue Devils of Coach Mike Krzyzewski could not avoid a quick comeback from Elon Phoenix with Steven Santa Ana (6'4", guard, born in 1996) and Brian Dawkins (6'8", forward, born in 1994) being quite efficient from long range. On the Duke side, Jayson Tatum (6'8", forward, age 18) started his sensational performance in this game by hitting the first 7 points of his team.

Blue Devil freshman Harry Giles (6'10", forward, age 18) got on the court and was given some time to play when Duke was still trailing. Duke's player Matt Jones (6'5", guard, age 22) got on fire and allowed his team to recover quickly: 24-22 after several Phoenix's turnovers forced by the Blue Devils. Duke's scorer Luke Kennard (6'5", guard/forward, age 20) looked fit and well and was helped by his mate Jayson Tatum to offer the Blue Devils a 32-24 lead. It could have been perfect for the Blue Devils if Grayson Allen (6'5", guard, age 21) had not received a technical foul for flagrantly tripping Elon's guard Steven Santa Ana. Allen's technical foul was a turning point in the first half, when Elon of Coach Matt Matheny responded via Brian Dawkins and Dmitri Thompson (6'4", guard, born in 1996) from three-point range. The scoreboard showed 34-35 at the half with a nice last basket hit by Elon's Dainan Swoope (6'0", guard, born in 1996). Duke's last attempts were missed and Elon's players had a short advantage when they joined the locker rooms.

In the start of the second half, the Blue Devils came back with good intentions but Elon's Lithuanian big man Karolis Kundrotas (6'11", forward/center, born in 1996) responded very well. Both Blue Devils Jayson Tatum and Luke Kennard were almost unstoppable and their mate Grayson Allen, back on the court, delivered some great assists to them. Too many turnovers by several Elon Phoenix players allowed Duke of Coach K to dig the gap. Young Duke's talent Harry Giles scored one free-throw as his first collegiate basketball career point.

A few minutes later, the scoreboard showed 66-53 with 5 minutes left in the second half. Amile Jefferson (6'9", forward, age 23) played seriously and, after Elon's Brian Dawkins being fouled out at 70-55 with 2'51" remaining in this game, was not challenged in the paint afterwards. Jefferson kept cruising and hitting crucial free throws.

Nice efforts were made by Elon's guard Steven Santa Ana but this was not enough to put Duke in jeopardy. The Blue Devils eventually won the game 72-61 in front of a nice crowd in Greensboro, North Carolina.

The next day, Duke suspended Grayson Allen indefinitely after the guard intentionally stuck out his leg and tripped Santa Ana, an incident for which Allen later apologized. It marked the third time the Duke guard has intentionally tripped an opposing player in the last year. The incident that led to a technical foul was described by Hall of Fame Coach Mike Krzyzewski as "unacceptable". 
Best scorers:
Duke: Jayson Tatum 18, Luke Kennnard 21, Matt Jones 9, Amile Jefferson 13, Grayson Allen 3, Frank Jackson 7, Harry Giles 1.
Elon: Tyler Seibring 7, Dainan Swoope 2, Stephen Santa Ana 11, Brian Dawkins 18, Dmitri Thompson 5, Sheldon Eberhardt 4, Karolis Kundrotas 9, Luke Eddy 3, Christian Hairston 2.

(Pictures: Grant Halverson/Getty Images; Gator Country and Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)


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