Tatum shines at Duke’s ‘Countdown to Craziness’

Duke basketball's 'Countdown to Craziness'

Duke's "Countdown to Craziness" introduces the 2016-17 men's basketball squad to Blue Devils fans.
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Duke's "Countdown to Craziness" introduces the 2016-17 men's basketball squad to Blue Devils fans.

Jayson Tatum put on a shooting clinic in his official debut as a Blue Devil.

The freshman helped command Duke’s White team to a 52-37 victory in Saturday’s “Countdown to Craziness” Blue-White Scrimmage at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Tatum led the team with 18 points, going 4-for-4 to start.

He was one of four to finish scoring in double figures, as fellow rookie Frank Jackson led the Blue team with 12 points.

Tatum also showed his speed and awareness in transition throughout the night. Blowing a bubble in his gum while he waited for Marques Bolden’s free throws with 8:17 left in the 20-minute scrimmage, he demanded the ball after the rebound and threw a long pass to Matt Jones for a Jones triple.

The White team shot 70 percent from the 3-point line; the Blue Devils led the ACC with an average of 9.1 3-pointers a game last season.

Tatum later helped set up another Jones 3 after he pulled down one of his four boards and raced down the court to set up another play.

“My competitiveness to win, just to do anything I can do in my power to help my team win, whether it be scoring, rebounding or finding my teammates,” Tatum said.

The midnight madness-type of game didn’t resemble your average scrimmage; the Devils were competitive.

Graduate student Amile Jefferson, playing for his first time since breaking his foot last season, and junior Grayson Allen collided late in the game, creating quite the scare. Allen slid into Jefferson’s knee, and Jefferson stayed down a while before getting up, icing two free throws and laughing it off on the bench.

“I was just laying there next to him just like ‘Dang.’ I’m praying and hoping he’s OK, especially after coming off last year,” Allen said. “He rolled over and said, ‘I’m good, don’t worry, I was just scared for a little while.’ 

Allen led the Blue team with four assists; Jefferson led all with five. Allen didn’t score until there were about 7 1/2 minutes left, draining a deep, off-balance 3-pointer. The Duke captain finished with 10 points.

“I think I was getting other guys going, but I think that’s just the flow of the game,” said Allen, who looked visibly frustrated at times. “We’re looking to get good shots. I ended up with eight shots, that’s how it is.”

Freshman Bolden added seven points and a game-best seven rebounds in the front court. Forward Harry Giles, who is recovering from a left knee arthroscopy, was active in the team’s introductions but did not participate in any game activity. Coach Mike Krzyzewski didn’t name a timetable for his return but is optimistic about Giles’ recovery. Giles had the surgery on Oct. 3 and the recovery time for the procedure is typically six weeks. Duke will open its season hosting Marist on Nov. 11.

“Harry’s coming along,” Krzyzewski said. “His stuff’s coming along really well; we’re pleased with that.”

Jessika Morgan: 919-829-4538, @JessikaMorgan