by Matt Saldaña
Two weeks ago, on a neutral Madison Square Garden court, Duke bested Michigan by a convincing 15 points to win the Coaches v. Cancer tournament, and solidify their reputation as one of the country's top five teams.
Last night in Ann Arbor, however, was a different story. Michigan forward DeShawn Sims (who scored 10 points off the bench in the teams' previous meeting) overpowered Duke's inside defense, and came away with a career-high 28 points, en route to a 81-73 victory over the previously undefeated Blue Devils. Meanwhile, Kyle Singler, Duke's star forward, was three assists shy of a triple-double, but was uncharacteristically dismal from behind the three-point arc, going just 1-for-9. Despite solid offensive performances from the Duke starters, Saturday night's loss was a reminder of the team's defensive achilles heel--and what can happen when one shooter is off.
Also of note: Former starting point-guard Greg Paulus played just 10 minutes, and in that time, took, and missed, four three-pointers. It appears Coach K isn't afraid to keep Paulus on the bench, even in close games--and certainly not when he's missing shots.
Next up: UNC-Asheville at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Dec. 17. The Bulldogs have lost five in a row, but last night, forward Reid Augst dropped 29 points against Big South conference leaders Virginia Military--a stat that should be concerning for the Blue Devils. Nevertheless, we anticipate a strong return to form at home.