DURHAM — Duke bounced back from a blowout loss at the hands of one Big Ten team with a hard-fought win over another team from that conference.
The Blue Devils lost to Purdue in the Phil Knight Legacy tournament finals on Sunday, falling behind early and losing by 19 as the Boilermakers overpowered Duke.
Just three days later, Duke had to face another Big Ten favorite in Ohio State, who came to Cameron Indoor Stadium for the last ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The ACC announced earlier this week that, after two dozen years, the Challenge would not continue next year as the SEC would replace the Big Ten in a conference vs. conference series.
On Wednesday night, Duke had to cope with a quick turnaround, the loss of confidence in the one-sided loss, and the physical play of the Buckeyes.
“They have some new guys over there,” said four-year Big Ten veteran Ryan Young, who came to Duke from Northwestern. “I played against Zed Key for a while and Justice Sueing, but a lot of their team is new, but they still have the same identity they’ve always had — throwing the ball inside, playing hard and getting to the rim.”
The Blue Devils took Ohio State’s best shot and pulled away, beating the Buckeyes 81-72.
“Coming off a loss, you think about our program and what it means to me and what it means to us,” Duke coach Jon Scheyer said. “It’s not necessarily that we’re perfect, but when you get knocked down, you get right back up.”
The Blue Devils had very little time to get ready for the game after returning from Portland following Sunday’s loss.
“We didn’t practice on Monday because we were getting back from Portland,” Scheyer said. “We had a one-day prep. Our focus was just to take what we learned against Purdue and bring it tonight.”
Duke was led by freshman big man Kyle Filipowski, who had a team-high 16 points and seven rebounds. Dereck Lively, who is still working his way into game shape after missing a month in the preseason, including the season-opening game, had his best outing as a collegian with 11 points, five rebounds and two blocks.
“It was my game to do well, and I just know that the next game, it could be someone else. And the next game, it might be me. I’m just grateful for winning,” Lively said.
The win moved Duke to 7-3 on the year with ACC play starting on Saturday. More importantly, a young Duke team showed fight against a tough, veteran opponent after some adversity.
“Obviously, it’s always great for anybody to play [against this level of competition], but it’s awesome for our young guys to get that kind of experience,” Young said. “Even though our freshmen have continually shown, in my opinion, that they’re a pretty physical group themselves. But it’s great for them to get this kind of experience against a tough team like that.”
“There’s no way to not focus on this,” Lively, one of those physical freshmen, said. “It’s a life. You’ve got to move on from your losses, you’ve got to learn from them, and you’ve got to keep moving on. And that’s what we did, and I know we’re going to keep doing that forward.”