Duke stars Hood, Parker, get boost from Dawkins, defense
For all the grittiness Duke has displayed during its five-game winning streak, Andre Dawkins’ sweet stroke contributed to the latest win.
The redshirt senior’s six 3-pointers on just seven attempts in an ultra-efficient 15 minutes of play were a major reason No. 17 Duke won 80-65 at No. 18 Pittsburgh at Petersen Events Center.
Dawkins has started only twice in the 20 games he’s played this season. But he showed the Panthers (18-3, 6-2 in ACC) he clearly can’t be overlooked.
“We knew he could shoot,” Pitt guard Lamar Patterson said. “He was hitting his shots. He had a couple of tough ones. Unfortunately we were leaving him open which wasn’t smart. For his first couple threes he was covered. There’s nothing you can really do about that.”
Dawkins performance at Pitt is the latest in what’s turning out to be a productive final season with the Blue Devils (17-4, 6-2). He’s made 47 of 99 3-pointers this season for an impressive 47.5 percentage that leads the ACC.
Dawkins said he felt good in a team shoot-around Monday morning and Duke associate head coach Steve Wojociechowski predicted that Dawkins was ready to deliver a break-out performance.
Before a crowd of 12,944 at Pitt, the largest crowd to watch the Panthers on their campus, Dawkins turned in his second game of the season with six 3-pointers. He also did it — on 10 attempts — in a home win over Eastern Michigan Dec. 28.
His .857 percentage of made 3-pointers against Pitt tied a Duke record. Five other Duke players, most recently Seth Curry against Georgia Tech on Jan. 17, 2013, have also made 6 of 7.
“Andre is a great story, because, you know, sitting out last year, to go through the things he went through and to come back, I’m so happy for him and we’re the beneficiaries of his great play,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said.
After sitting out last season while receiving treatment for depression, Dawkins started the season slowly. He also had a minor back injury that limited his play.
Healthy and back in playing shape, he’s turning in efficient play. Dawkins averages just 14.5 minutes per game, but he’s averaging 9.4 points.
He’s part of Duke’s second five that Krzyzewski has been regularly substituting in as a group. Since that adjustment was made, Duke has yet to lose a game.
Even while playing so many people, Duke has continued to play well offensively while improving its defensive play dramatically.
“We are just fighting on defense, playing our butts off on the defensive end,” Dawkins said. “Everybody contributes to the win.”
Duke is also using more motion offense, which worked well against Pitt. The Blue Devils’ ball movement created open perimeter shots for everyone, not just Dawkins. Duke made 13 of 25 3-pointers against the Panthers.
“Obviously,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said, “our guys didn’t recognize that they could shoot the ball as well as they did. Again, that’s why I keep going back to myself. You have to be able to get the message across to them and I simply didn’t. If they felt we were going to win by playing defense like that, I obviously didn’t get the point across like I wanted to.”
At the same time, Dawkins reinforced the fact that he is one of the ACC’s top 3-point shooters. His points, along with the usual production from Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood, has turned Duke into one of the nation’s top teams once again.
|No. 17 DUKE 80, No. 18 PITTSBURGH 65|
Percentages: FG .483, FT .733.
3-Point Goals: 13-25, .520 (Dawkins 6-7, Hood 3-7, Parker 2-6, Sulaimon 1-2, Cook 1-3).
Team Rebounds: 3.
Blocked Shots: 4 (Jefferson 2, Parker, Plumlee).
Turnovers: 7 (Hood 2, Cook 2, Parker, Dawkins, Plumlee).
Steals: 5 (Cook, Hood, Parker, Jefferson, Sulaimon).
Technical Fouls: None.
Percentages: FG .412, FT .750.
3-Point Goals: 5-12, .417 (Artis 2-3, Wright 1-1, Young 1-1, Patterson 1-5, Newkirk 0-1, Robinson 0-1).
Team Rebounds: 0.
Blocked Shots: 5 (Zanna 2, Artis, Young, Wright).
Turnovers: 10 (Patterson 5, Wright 2, Young, Jones, Zanna).
Steals: 4 (Robinson 2, Patterson 2).
Technical Fouls: None.
Officials_Ray Natili, Roger Ayers, Bryan Kersey.