Making changes on defense and switching to more zone seems to be helping Duke in forgetting about their losses, beating Pitt 79-65 to get Mike Krzyzewski to 999 career wins, their second in a row.
Tyus Jones scored 21 points on 7-of-11 from the field while Jahlil Okafor took a backseat to the guard’s incredible shooting. Okafor scored 14 points, followed by Rasheed Sulaimon with 13 points and Quinn Cook finishing with 11 points, grabbing 10 rebounds on an awful shooting day, hitting just 1-of-8 from beyond the arc.
But it wasn’t offense that helped the Blue Devils get their legendary head coach one win away from the 1000 milestone. They played zone defense on 67% of Pitt’s possessions, the second straight game in which they’ve played zone on at least 65% of the opponents possessions. The Panthers were held to just 17-of-41 from the field against the zone. Through the first 16 games of the season, including the two losses to North Carolina State and Miami, Duke played zone defense only 3.7% of the time.
Their offense didn’t dominate like they did against Louisville, at least not in the same manner. While their win over the Cardinals came with a dominant day in the paint and under the rim for both Okafor and Jefferson, they scored only 18 paint points against Pitt, while their average from close range this season is 37.5 points a game.
They shot 51% on field goal attempts from outside the paint, including going 11-of-23 from beyond the arc. Both Jones and Suliamon hit four 3-pointers each.
Pitt faced a ranked team for only the second time this season. They’re still looking for a marquee win to help them when the RPI calculations become a lot more important. They have five games left on their schedule against ranked opponents, including twice against current #10 Louisville.