Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski achieved 1,000 wins as the head coach of Duke on Saturday.
Prior to the game, he said he tried not to think about it. And after he achieved the feat, he seemed relieved to get it over with. Here are five takeaways from Saturday’s 99-69 win over Utah Valley.
1. Wendell Carter Jr. can be a difference-maker for Duke. The Blue Devils struggled early on with Utah Valley’s length. But Carter got Duke going. There was a stretch during the first half where Carter was dominant on both sides of the floor. After the first half, he had 12 points, six rebounds, four blocks, two assists and two steals.
“Wendell was disappointed yesterday because he got in all that foul trouble, although I thought he still played well, he wasn’t really satisfied,” Krzyzewski said. “Then he had four blocks for that stretch there, and he really dominated, and we won about four possessions and kind of broke it open, and he was the culprit, in a good way.”
That stretch helped Duke (2-0) extend its lead to 15 points in the first half.
2. If Grayson Allen is off, his freshmen teammates can pick up the slack. Allen only had five points at halftime. He missed his first three shots, and his first bucket – a fast-break dunk – didn’t come until 2:47 left in the first half. But Duke’s starting freshmen were all over it. Carter had 12 points, Marvin Bagley III had 14, Gary Trent Jr. had 12 and Trevon Duval had five points and five assists in the first half.
Allen eventually got going in the second half, finishing with 17 points. He was 7-for-11 from the floor and 4-for-6 from behind the 3-point line. Every starter finished the game in double figures.
3. Someone on Duke’s bench will have to step up offensively at some point. The starters – Duval, Trent, Allen, Bagley and Carter – were responsible for Duke’s first 86 points on Saturday against a tough Utah Valley team.
The Blue Devils scored 99 points, but the bench did not score until 5:11 left in the game, after Marques Bolden, who was expected to miss the game with strep throat, hit a layup. The bench was responsible for Duke’s final 13 points but after the Blue Devils had all but secured the win.
“The bench is going to get better,” Allen said. “Marques has been sick this week, and so we know he is going to contribute a lot more. Javin (DeLaurier) is going to be able to come in and contribute. And I think J Gold (Jordan Goldwire), Alex (O’Connell) and Jack (White) are all capable of coming in if we get into foul trouble.
“But honestly, our guys are in great shape, so if Coach only goes with five, we’re able to go with five because of the shape we’re in.”
4. Duke survived its first test. Utah Valley came out swinging, just as it did 24 hours prior in its game against Kentucky. Allen and Duval were in early foul trouble, and after the second media timeout, Utah Valley led Duke 17-15, after 8 1/2 minutes played.
“The second media timeout, we just talked to our team about the fact that this is the way it is,” Krzyzewski said. “It isn’t like the other games. This is better, you’re going to feel better about playing in a game like this, but we have to play in a game like this, which means we have to be there every play. They really responded, and even though we were in foul trouble with Trevon (Duval) and Grayson (Allen), our bench, (Alex) O’Connell and Javin (DeLaurier) really came alive.”
After the timeout, Duke began to force turnovers and went on a 20-5 run over the next five minutes of the game. Duke finished with 33 points off turnovers. While Duke survived its first test, now comes No. 2 Michigan State on Tuesday.
5. Marques Bolden may play against Michigan State after all. Prior to Saturday’s game, Krzyzewski said Bolden was so sick, he couldn’t imagine Bolden would be ready for Duke’s game versus Michigan State on Tuesday. He had been battling strep throat since the beginning of the week and hadn’t practiced.
But Bolden played Saturday night, and contributed off the bench. He scored two points, grabbed a rebound and added two blocks in 12 minutes.
“We didn’t know that Marques (Bolden) was going to play until this morning,” Krzyzewski said. “He hasn’t worked out all week because he has been sick, but we got a lift and then we really passed the ball well.”
Bolden said he wanted to make sure he played before Duke’s next game.
“I didn’t want to come into fresh off nothing,” he said. “I was feeling good. Of course my wind was bothering me a little bit, but it felt good to get out there and run.”