Duke would rather not play with point guard Tre Jones on the bench, but the second-ranked Blue Devils keep learning more about their younger players every time they’re on the floor.
The trend of lineup shuffling is set to continue Friday night against visiting Georgia State when the teams meet at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C.
Jones is expected to be fine after a first-half collision in Tuesday night’s 105-54 victory against Central Arkansas. He didn’t return to action after absorbing a blow to the head, but he was on the bench and engaged in the game.
“I don’t think it will be a problem,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said of Jones’ condition, pointing out that the sophomore was held out of the remainder of the blowout as a precaution.
What happened on the court was something that could benefit the Blue Devils in the long run as they learn more about what player combinations work best.
“It’s going to be a little bit different feel for your team (without Jones),” senior forward Javin DeLaurier said. “That being said, we trust the other guys.”
Freshman Wendell Moore Jr. and junior Jordan Goldwire handled a bulk of the point guard duties in Jones’ absence.
“With Tre going down, it kind of hurt us, but I feel like I kind of stepped up, and I tried to take over the role as best as I could,” Moore said.
Moore was the point guard when the second half began.
“To get that experience is good,” Krzyzewski said.
Without Jones’ on-court presence, the Blue Devils were forced to become more assertive. That’s something that could pay off as confidence grows within a team that largely features freshmen.
“It’s a little different but we just have to talk more because he’s really our leader,” freshman center Vernon Carey Jr. said. “So just communicating more.”
Duke’s interchangeable personnel is something that is becoming a bonus in a short amount of time.
“We’re looking at a lot of different things,” Krzyzewski said. “The things that stay consistent are defense. Whenever they come in the game it really doesn’t matter. They’re playing the same defense.”
Duke’s offense has clicked at times regardless of who’s on the floor. Freshman guard Cassius Stanley is shooting 81.8 percent (18-for-22) from the field in the first three games of his career.
With top-ranked Kentucky losing to Evansville on Tuesday night at home, Duke (3-0) could be in position to move atop the national rankings when next week’s poll comes out.
Against Georgia State, Duke goes for its 150th consecutive non-conference home victory. The Blue Devils won the only previous meeting seven years ago.
For Georgia State (1-1), this will be the second of four consecutive games away from home.
First-year coach Rob Lanier said the Panthers need to focus on reaching their goals.
“Are we operating in those areas that we can control?” Lanier said. “It starts with our defense. … We’re going to have some real challenges. We’ve got a lot to get better at.”
Georgia State hasn’t played since Saturday’s 84-80 loss at College of Charleston. Redshirt sophomore Justin Roberts scored a career-high 22 points in that game.
Georgia State will be tested by Duke’s athleticism.
“Offensive rebounding is a huge emphasis for us and we have a long way to go,” Lanier said. “But we have guys who can go and get it.”
–Field Level Media