The Duke Blue Devils were cruising along, leading the St. John’s Red Storm by 22 points a few minutes into the second half. It looked like the No. 8 Blue Devils (18-3) were on their way to an easy victory. Then, the Red Storm (9-12) showed up, caught fire, and nearly stole one at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
It really was a tale of two games for the Blue Devils. For the first 33 minutes, they looked the part of Atlantic Coast Conference and national championship contender. For a long stretch of the second half, they look to be worse than a sub-.500 team.
The Red Storm had very few answers for F Mason Plumlee, who posted 15 points while adding a career-high 17 rebounds in 34 minutes. SG Andre Dawkins was solid from behind the arc, hitting four of his 10 attempts from downtown, giving him 14 points, two assists and a steal for the game. In fact, all five of Duke’s starters recorded at least one steal, and the Blue Devils finished with eight for the game.
It was a tremendous effort for F Moe Harkless, who connected on 13 of 21 field goal attempts, finishing with 30 points, 13 boards and a steal in 35 minutes. G D’Angelo Harrison also helped St. John’s make their big comeback, bagging eight of his 17 attempts to finish with 21 points.
The Red Storm might not be a great team on paper, but they have two of the best names in college hoops. Nigerian big man God’s Gift Achiuwa saw 29 minutes of action in this one, finishing with four points, five rebounds and two assists. G Sir’Dominic Porter also logged 19 minutes, and he gives St. John’s two of the best names in the game.
The Blue Devils had four players in double digits on the scoresheet, with G Seth Curry just missing out from all five starts getting 10 or more points. He finished with nine points in 29 minutes. F/C Miles Plumlee added eight points off the bench.
If the Johnnies were able to make their free throws, this result might have been different. They managed just 10 of 19 (52.6 percent) from the charity stripe in the final 20 minutes, but they picked up that slack by making five of their 10 shots from downtown in the second half. Only one St. John’s player converted more than half of his free throw attempts, and that was Harrison, who made two of three. Meanwhile, the Blue Devils were just 1 of 8 from behind the arc in the second half, but they countered by hitting 23 of 27 from the free throw stripe (85.2 percent), and that ultimately was the difference.
The Blue Devils will be back in ACC play Thursday night when they travel to Virginia Tech.