The ACC-Big Ten challenge has always been very successful for Duke, carrying on with tradition and getting a huge 80-70 win over number two Wisconsin in Madison, led by Tyus Jones, some excellent defense and an outstanding shooting night that might be one of a kind of them this season.
Jones led Duke with 22 points, as the Blue Devils shot 65.2% from the field and 58.3% from beyond the arc. A lot of open shots came as the Wisconsin defense had to focus on Jahlil Okafor, not trying to do too much, scoring 13 points on 6-of-8 from the field, simply taking what was given to him and doing what was best for his team. Quinn Cook also scored 13 points and Rasheed Sulaimon added 14 coming off the bench.
This was Duke’s best shooting performance against a ranked team in the last 15 years, while Wisconsin haven’t allowed such shooting percentages in the last four seasons. The Blue Devils averaged 1.31 points per possession, which is just short of their average (1.33 points per possession), the nation’s most efficient offense. Their 65.2% from the field is the third highest ratio against a top 5 opponent in the last 15 years, and the highest by anyone while playing on the road.
Wisconsin had one of the best defenses in the nation (And still do) before this game, allowing only 0.80 points per possession (sixth in the nation), forcing teams to just 50.6 points per game and 37.1% from the field. But Duke have a combination of talent and size the Badgers still haven’t faced this season, as they pick up their first loss of the season after a 7-0 start. The Duke defense didn’t really help, holding the Badgers to 40.7% from the field.
The biggest problem for Wisconsin was not having much beyond Frank Kaminski (17 points) and Traevon Jackson with 25. Sam Dekker, Nigel Hayes and Duje Dukan combined to score just 14 points. These three players bring the added ingredient to Wisconsin’s success this season, and without their help the whole concept of a sum that’s greater than its parts fell apart in front of a slightly stunned 17,279 attendance at Kohl Center.
Improving to 8-0 and now holding two double digit wins over two ranked Big Ten schools, Duke might be making its biggest push to be ranked first in the nation, even though Kentucky have been obliterating everything standing in its way since the season began.