<
>

Duke turns up the defense against Indiana

play
Bilas expects Duke to be challenged multiple times (2:15)

Jay Bilas explains if he expects more teams to challenge Duke like Gonzaga did and what the Blue Devils' ceiling is this season. (2:15)

DURHAM, N.C. -- The windmill dunk will be what everyone will remember.

Zion Williamson's prowess around the rim is always the headliner. But before Duke's sensational freshman had nine guys on the court and the entirety of Cameron Indoor Stadium waiting with bated breath for the finish, Williamson jumped a pass, tipped the ball away from Indiana's Evan Fitzner and pushed it up the court to set up the fireworks.

This is what coach Mike Krzyzewski had spent the past few days preaching.

"He didn't talk anything about offense," Cam Reddish said about the run-up to Tuesday's dominant 90-69 win over Indiana. "He said defend, rebound and talk. That was our main points for the game."

Duke's first loss of the season last Wednesday included a laborious effort on defense, especially in the first half against Gonzaga. That needed to change, and the message came through loud and clear as the Blue Devils utterly tormented Indiana.

The Hoosiers shot just 33 percent from the field in the first half Tuesday, coughing up 13 turnovers and mustering only five second-chance points. For all the highlights from Williamson & Co. on the other end, this was the real showstopper.

"In the Gonzaga game, we played lackluster defense," Williamson said. "They got better shots, and we contested, but it wasn't affecting them. When we're forcing them to catch the ball further out from the 3-point line, it makes it harder for them, and I think we did that [against Indiana]."

If Gonzaga was the litmus test against a more mature team, Indiana offered a less refined approach, but the Hoosiers did bring their own star freshman. Romeo Langford was the No. 5 recruit in the class that included Williamson, Reddish and RJ Barrett -- all top-three signees -- and arrived a polished scorer.

On Tuesday, however, Langford was lost. With Barrett and Reddish defending through the first half, Langford found little room to maneuver, and he finished the night shooting just 3-of-15 from the field, including 0-for-4 from 3.

"If we can limit the one or two best players on the other team, that's got to be our goal, and today, we did that," Krzyzewski said.

Krzyzewski actually argued after the game that the first half against Gonzaga was the exception, and the defense for the season has been solid.

That's true, statistically, but as Reddish pointed out, the nuance of that side of the ball remains something of a work in progress.

"We're all naturally gifted offensive players. That's the easy part," Reddish said. "Basically, it comes down to working on our communication. We're used to not talking in high school. We're getting the hang of it, as you could see tonight, and as the season goes on, we're going to get better."

On Tuesday, the progress was clear. It's still a group getting to know one another, but with each performance like this one, there's a step forward.

That's the exciting part, Barrett said. Sure, the offense is generating tons of hype. But the defensive improvement offers another level the Blue Devils are still working toward.

"We're continuing to figure it out every day," Barrett said. "We're what, seven games in? We've got a long time to figure it out."