USC Upstate came out fighting: the Spartans stole the ball and scored on Duke’s first two possessions, then followed those up with a three to go up 7-0.
And that, as they say, was that.
Duke ripped off 14 straight points, then built a halftime lead of 43-18. In other words, after Upstate’s first burst, Duke outscored the Spartans 43-11. The second half was more of the same as Duke just outclassed Upstate, ultimately winning 84-38.
Duke got a ton of points off of 23 forced turnovers. The last time we saw, with 4:16 left, Duke had a 37-4 advantage.
Offensively, the Blue Devils shot a pedestrian 44.1 percent and hit 3-21 on threes. The team shot just 65.4 percent from the line.
Duke also had a huge rebounding advantage, 52-27 and matched the Spartans with 20 offensive boards.
There were a lot of impressive performances, but for our money the most impressive was by Jaylen Blakes.
You could see he had talent last year, but it wasn’t refined, certainly not on offense. But what we saw Friday night was a weapon of chaos.
To be clear, Blakes is a better athlete than anyone Dave Dickerson has on his team. But he’s doing things that not many people can do and on defense, he’s playing brilliantly. On one play, he honestly reminded us of Muggsy Bugs.
He’s not Bugs – no one is or will be – but he ran around and under a guy to get to the ball, which was just spectacular.
He has immense potential on defense, and his offense, which was really hit or miss last year (no pun intended) was very good Friday night.
Like Blakes, Jacob Grandison also helped get Duke going when things weren’t working early. He finished with 12 points on 5-9 from the floor, including 2-6 on threes.
Kyle Filipowski had his second double-double in as many games with 15 points and 10 boards. He’s still figuring things out and has some kinks to iron out in his game, but he’s showing immense potential.
Dereck Lively also made his debut and we saw a 7-1 guy who could get up and down the court, block shots and make smart cuts off the pick and roll.
Ryan Young again played his heady, intelligent brand of basketball, scoring 11 and grabbing eight boards.
Mark Mitchell had a quieter game than he had against Jacksonville, but was still very effective. He shot 6-10 and hit 1-1 from three point range,
Jeremy Roach didn’t shoot well – 3-8 for 10 points – but he had seven assists and two steals.
Tyrese Procotor hit his first field goal at Duke – he whiffed against Jacksonville – and also had four rebounds.
He has shown some great moves, but seems like he’s still adjusting to college. And that’s fine. He’ll get there.
Like Proctor, Jaden Schutt hit his first basket at Duke. He got seven minutes and looked a lot more comfortable than he did last time out.
Christian Reeves also got in for seven minutes and grabbed three rebounds.
One might argue that Jacksonville was a better team and Upstate ain’t that great. And that holds water. But you could also argue that Duke played much better Friday than Monday, because that’s also true.
And keep in mind that Duke is looking very good without Dariq Whitehead. When he comes back, Duke’s defense is going to find another gear.
Duke center Dereck Lively II makes debut in win over USC Upstate