Williamson, No. 4 Duke pull away from Army, 94-72
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Duke got something from Army that it didn’t against Kentucky: A test.
The fourth-ranked Blue Devils pulled away to beat the Black Knights 94-72 on Sunday behind 27 points and 16 rebounds from Zion Williamson.
Playing five days after routing the second-ranked Wildcats in the Champions Classic , they shot 49 percent but couldn’t shake the Black Knights until the final 10 minutes, finally pulling away with an 11-0 run keyed by 3-pointers from fellow freshmen RJ Barrett and Cameron Reddish.
“It’s one thing for somebody to tell you that everybody’s going to bring their best against you, that all their shots are going to feel like they’re going in,” Williamson said. “But I think until you truly experience it, I think you just have to go through it to fully understand.”
Reddish finished with 25 points and Barrett had 23 while Williamson added six blocked shots and four assists for the Blue Devils (2-0).
Coach Mike Krzyzewski called it “a perfect game for us following Kentucky” and said his team’s preparation wasn’t as at a high enough level beforehand.
“That whole thing, the hangover of success and travel and then getting ready” for a game, Krzyzewski said. “The only way you do it is to do it. And our guys don’t feel good about themselves right now. And that’s good. Although they turned it around in the second half, they were in a position to lose the game and they responded, and they responded really well.”
Matt Wilson scored 15 points and Tommy Funk added 12 for Army (1-1), and Funk hit back-to-back 3s to pull the Black Knights to 67-61 with just over 12 minutes left.
Reddish hit a driving layup, and he and Barrett each hit 3s on consecutive possessions to push the lead into double figures for good. Reddish added another 3 to stretch the lead to 78-61 with just over 9 minutes left, and the Blue Devils eventually went up by 20 on Williamson’s stickback with less than 4 minutes to play.
Army: Plenty to build on for the Black Knights, who proved themselves as much more than just a sentimental Veterans Day choice for Duke and Krzyzewski, a former Black Knight player and coach himself. They didn’t back down against a preseason Final Four favorite, and were very much in the game until the final 10 minutes. That will pay off once conference play begins.
“Our guys stuck to the game plan,” Army coach Jimmy Allen said. “Trying to keep them out of the paint, trying to keep them from getting some easy baskets inside and force them to take some shots from the perimeter, and trying to get them to have to make a few passes in a possession.”
Duke: As dominant as the Blue Devils looked against Kentucky, they looked equally vulnerable during stretches of this one, perhaps proving that college basketball won’t be as easy for these freshmen as they made it look in the Champions Classic. It wound up being another blowout, but there were plenty of teachable moments for Krzyzewski: Duke left far too many perimeter shooters open and too often settled for low-percentage shots — the 36 3-pointers attempted were its most since 2016.
“Today was a learning experience,” Reddish said. “We can’t dwell on any win.”
Duke also trailed for the first time this season — for 12 seconds during the opening minute. ... Williamson was 11 of 14 from the field and has made 22 of 27 shots during his college career. ... Reddish was 9 of 21 while Barrett was 9 of 19. ... Army scored more points off turnovers (15) than Duke did (14).
This was the eighth time since 2011 that Duke took at least 34 3s in a game, according to SportsReference.com, and the first since the Blue Devils put up 36 in a loss to Notre Dame in the semifinals of the 2016 ACC Tournament. Duke improved to 2-6 when attempting that many 3s, and the other win came against rival North Carolina in 2012 on — what else? — Austin Rivers’ buzzer-beating 3.
Army: Plays host to Sacred Heart on Friday.
Duke: Plays host to Eastern Michigan on Wednesday night.
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