No. 4 Duke basketball uses defense to rally past No. 3 Kansas

Duke took advantage of Kansas’ sloppy play to open the season with a big win.

The No. 4 Jayhawks turned the ball over 28 times and the No. 3 Blue Devils rallied from a nine-point, second-half deficit to win 68-66 in the Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden.

Sophomore guard Tre Jones scored 15 points to lead the Blue Devils and freshman guard Cassius Stanley added 13.

Duke trailed 61-59 before Stanley drove the lane to score and draw a foul with 2:29 to play. His free throw put the Blue Devils up 62-61.

Kansas guard Devon Dotson’s drive resulted in a layup try that bounced off the rim. Duke senior forward Jack White grabbed the rebound and also rebounded a missed Blue Devils’ 3-pointer on the other end.

That allowed Jones to sink a pull-up jumper with 1:33 left giving Duke a 64-61 lead.

With Duke leading 64-63, freshman center Vernon Carey missed a shot that allowed Kansas a chance to take the lead. But White’s steal under the basket thwarted that Jayhawks’ possession.

Jones hit two free throws with 26.2 seconds left, putting Duke up 66-63.

Freshman forward Matthew Hurt and Carey had 11 points each for Duke.

After trailing by nine points early in the second half, Duke used Kansas turnovers to get its transition game going and fought back.

With Kansas up 52-48, Stanley drilled a 3-pointer with 9:44 to play. After Kansas missed a 3-pointer, Blue Devils’ junior guard Alex O’Connell hit two free throws to put Duke up 53-52. A Jayhawks turnover allowed Carey to score inside while drawing a foul with 8:42 to play. His free throw gave Duke a 56-52 lead.

The Blue Devils went six consecutive possessions without scoring and Kansas moved ahead 58-56 with 4:38 to play when Jayhawks’ 7-foot, 270-pound senior center Udoka Azubuike slammed home two points and added a free throw.

Hurt ended Duke’s scoring drought at 4:54 seconds with a 3-pointer to put Duke up 59-58.

Dotson, a Charlotte native, led Kansas with 17 points.

And one

O’Connell and Stanley took turns giving Duke bursts of offense when the Blue Devils needed them. O’Connell, a junior guard, scored five points in a row, rebounding a Carey miss and slamming it home before adding a 3-pointer, in the first half when Duke scored five straight points to lead 25-22. In the second half, Stanley scored eight consecutive Duke points -- two slam dunks in transition off Tre Jones passes, a free throw and a 3-pointer -- to cut a Kansas lead that had been nine to 52-51 with 9:44 to play.

Personal foul

Kansas was absolutely sloppy with the ball in the first half as the Jayhawks turned the ball over 18 times during that stretch. Duke recorded five steals with its pressure but Kansas did a terrible job protecting the ball early.


Duke used nine players over the game’s first five minutes in coach Mike Krzyzewski’s quest to discover his top playing rotations. The Blue Devils used an 11-man rotation in its two exhibition wins but senior forward Justin Robinson and sophomore forward Joey Baker were not part of the plan against Kansas.

Making sense of the numbers

1: Number of Kansas players who played in the first half and didn’t commit a turnover. Only reserve guard Christian Braun, who played three minutes and three seconds, did not turn the ball over.

7: Consecutive scoreless possessions for Duke during lengthy streaks in the first and second halves. Kansas built a nine-point lead with 14:35 to play during one of them.

14: Kansas points scored consecutively during an early second-half run that erased a five-point Duke lead and put the Jayhawks up 46-37.

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An Illinois native, Steve Wiseman has covered Duke athletics since 2010 for the Durham Herald-Sun and Raleigh News & Observer. Prior to his arrival in Durham, he worked for newspapers in Columbia and Spartanburg, S.C., Biloxi, Miss., and Charlotte covering beats including the NFL’s Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints, University of South Carolina athletics and the S.C. General Assembly.