DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Kyle Filipowski and his Duke teammates started asserting themselves in the paint, attacking the boards and doing a better job defending Pittsburgh’s shot makers.
The effort erased a big deficit — and provided first-year coach Jon Scheyer with an illustration of how this bunch of young Blue Devils can meet their potential.
Filipowski had a season-high 28 points and matched his season high of 15 rebounds to help No. 24 Duke rally past Pittsburgh 77-69 on Wednesday night. The Blue Devils trailed by a dozen points shortly after halftime.
“I can tell you this much,” Scheyer said. “I feel we learned something.”
The performance certainly reiterated the intensity of effort required by the Blue Devils (13-4, 4-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) to win an ACC game, particularly against a transfer-heavy team filled with older players.
Filipowski was the star, with the 7-foot freshman making 8 of 14 shots and 11 of 13 free throws. Fellow freshman Tyrese Proctor added 14 points, including a pair of tough driving scores that helped the Blue Devils hold their late lead.
The Blue Devils rallied by snagging seemingly every loose rebound. There was also a defensive uptick; after Pitt thrived in isolation plays with some of its top shot-makers to build its lead, Duke started getting stops in those sequences with more defensive switches.
“There’s been some games where we haven’t shown that fire,” Filipowski said. “We’ve had some tough practices after those. But just letting it all out, that’s what Coach has been saying too. Just be expressive, fight for one another, be confident, we all have each other’s backs.”
Duke had a 15-0 run during the game-turning stretch. Pittsburgh (11-6, 4-2), meanwhile, went more than eight minutes without a basket and never found its range from behind the arc after thriving there all season.
Jamarius Burton scored 16 points to lead the Panthers, who shot 8 of 28 after halftime (28.6%) and made 6 of 22 3-pointers for the game.
By the end of the game, Duke nearly had as many offensive rebounds (24) as Pittsburgh had total rebounds and had finished with a 51-28 edge on the glass. Duke also scored 24 second-half points in the paint after managing 10 before the break.
“They just kind of knew: we can dominate the glass,” Panthers coach Jeff Capel said. “And they just kept — just relentless. That was their best offense, just to get it on the rim and then to go get it.”
Pittsburgh: The Panthers had been a surprise in a league where little has gone to plan so far. They got off to their first 4-0 ACC start since their debut season in the league in 2013-14 before before falling last weekend to Clemson. They shot nearly 57% before the break and played with plenty of confidence early — including Blake Hinson barking at the rowdy “Cameron Crazies” after making a first-half 3 — but were unable to keep it going.
“They switched everything and they really did a great job of using their size and length to contest shots,” Capel said. “Some of the shots we were making in the first half and the start of the second half, we just missed them.”
Duke: The Blue Devils were coming off a bumpy week, which included a blowout loss at North Carolina State and a one-point win at Boston College. But the defend-and-rebound emphasis under Scheyer was on full display after halftime. The Blue Devils also got quality minutes to aid that effort from from 7-1 freshman Dereck Lively II (six points, four rebounds) in the defensive switches.
Both teams were missing key contributors.
Duke captain Jeremy Roach (11.9 points) missed his second straight game with a lingering toe injury. He was wearing a gray boot on his right foot on the bench.
Pitt said forward John Hugley IV (8.0 points) didn’t make the trip due to a non-COVID illness.
Pittsburgh: At Georgia Tech on Saturday.
Duke: At Clemson on Saturday.
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