In their first game since the scary freak injury to star freshman Zion Williamson, the Duke University Blue Devils got a huge boost from another first year phenom that is a projected to go in the top five of this year’s NBA draft along with Zion.
Freshman small forward RJ Barrett came up huge in the teams 75-65 win over the Syracuse University on Feb.23 when he went 14-20 for 30 points and added seven assists. This marked his sixth 30-point game of the season and he had been heating up as of late, averaging 28 points coming into the contest.
The unranked hosting Orange Men, who had already upset the top ranked Blue Devils earlier this season, were attempting to throw another wrench in the well-oiled machine that is the Duke men’s basketball team that was just days away from being blown out by nearly 20 points at home and without the best player in the nation.
They were also trying to rally around and lift the spirits of their head coach Jim Boeheim who made headlines earlier this week when he was involved in a fatal car accident that resulted in the loss of the life of a local pedestrian.
However, their inspired play and extrinsic motivation coupled with Zions absence wasn’t enough to catch the Blue Devils off guard on the night as Barrett was a dominant force up and down the court.
In a game in which points seemed hard to come by and every bucket was earned, Barrett would be the catalyst for his team’s success in this contest by consistently driving to and through the paint for lay ups as well as pulling up from behind the arc when opportune shots presented themselves.
Since Williamsons status for the near future still remains up in the air with it reportedly being deemed “day-to-day”, Coach K and the rest of the Duke faithful will need more of the same from Barrett, Cam Reddish, who had a quite scoring night and Alex O’Connell who finished second in points scored with 20 as they prepare for the unpredictable March Madness.