Nastic Does His Best to Slow Okafor, Duke Still Wins 70-59

By: Ben Leonard

Duke had four players in double figures, including eighteen from Quinn Cook, leading them to a 70-59 victory over the Stanford Cardinal.  Saturday’s game was played in Brooklyn, New York as the championship game of the Coaches Vs. Cancer Classic. Cook took home the tournament’s MVP award, as his presence as a leader led Duke to the victory. Chasson Randle led the Cardinal with twenty-two points in a losing effort. The Cardinal were down for almost the entire game, resulting in their first loss of the season. Stanford fell to 3-1 with the loss, and fourth-ranked Duke improved to 5-0. Duke played well as a team in capturing their second all-time tournament title, their first since 2008.

After taking a 7-4 lead on a three-pointer from Cook, Duke never looked back, as they didn’t surrender the lead for the remainder of the game. The contest was tight in the early going, with the Cardinal down just 9-8 five minutes into the game, but the Blue Devils proved to be too talented to lose. They passed well into the interior of the Cardinal’s zone defense, despite the best efforts of Stefan Nastic. The Canadian 6’11” senior frustrated McDonald’s All-American Jahlil Okafor in the post, holding him to just two points in the first half. Nastic gathered thirteen points and a career-high thirteen rebounds in a losing effort. Fellow McDonald’s All-American Reid Travis pulled down eleven rebounds of his own, marking the second time this season that Cardinal players have gotten double-digit rebounds in the same game. Nastic eventually fouled out, a testament to his physical play Saturday night.

Despite this solid play in the post, Stanford’s offense struggled to keep pace with Duke. Stanford was in foul trouble for much of the first half, recording eleven fouls in the first half alone. They gave the Blue Devils the advantage of a double bonus relatively early, and gave them opportunities at the line. However, Duke did not take full advantage of these chances, making just seventeen of twenty-nine attempts (58%) at the stripe. Despite these failures at the line, Duke’s talented freshman class gave Stanford fits offensively, as they missed eleven of their last thirteen shots going into halftime. According to Duke assistant coach Jeff Capel (halftime interview on TruTV), the Blue Devils defense took the Cardinal “out of the triangle offense” very effectively The reason Duke led 40-29 at halftime was the disparity in three point shooting; the Cardinal made just one of seven, while Duke made six of seventeen. When asked if his Cardinal team was playing below their size in a halftime interview on TruTV, Coach Dawkins said that they “settled for jump shots” instead of working their offense.

Duke picked up where they left off in the second half, holding leads of roughly ten points for most of the half, until breaking ahead to a commanding 61-45 lead with 5:31 left.With Nastic fouled out, Okafor took over, scoring eight points and grabbing six rebounds in the waning moments of the game. Duke won by limiting fouls, having just fifteen, compared to Stanford’s twenty-four.  On a postgame interview on TruTV, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said he was “proud of the way [his] team responded” to playing “five games in eight days.” Krzyzewski said the win showed “resilien[ce]” and that they can “play defense.” Next for Duke will be Furman (1-1) on November 26, hailing from the Southern Conference, while Stanford will face Delaware (0-2) on November 25.

Stats and info courtesy of ESPN, CBS Sports

Cover Image: By Adam Glantzman (flickr user Adam Glanzman) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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