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Duke's remarkable season has been made possible by the freshman's remarkable resilience. He leads the team in points and rebounds, and has earned seven times recognition as ACC freshman of the week.
The Blue Devils have lost two out of their last three games, yet they showed strength and toughness against Virginia and Miami. Tuesday against Notre Dame in Durham they have a chance to get back on track.
After their back-to-back losses, there was no doubt the Blue Devils needed to build some resilience. And they did just that - winning three out of their next four matches, including an important home win over St. John's that put them back in contention for first place in the ACC race.
Duke's defense was especially strong, allowing just 26 turnovers and holding the Red Storm to 43.9 percent shooting. Additionally, Tre Jones had an outstanding game that cemented his place as ACC Player of the Week.
After Kansas took a 10-2 lead in the first half, Duke responded by scoring 17 of its next 18 points to take control of the game. The Blue Devils led by as many as 13 in the second half and never looked threatened again as they cruised to victory with an effective offensive performance.
Filipowski's performance was especially remarkable considering he had been held scoreless for nearly six minutes prior to his big play in the final minute. He effortlessly found his groove, displaying all of the skills that have made him a top candidate to join Duke's starting lineup this season.
Despite his efforts, however, Duke was ultimately defeated by Virginia. The ACC declared an "incorrect adjudication" had been made in the final seconds of regulation on Saturday which should have awarded Duke two free throws.
In overtime, Virginia pulled away for a 69-62 victory. Although it's unfortunate that the officials were wrong, it serves to illustrate how important having an experienced officiating crew in the ACC is.
Jacob Grandison, another freshman, came off the bench to provide an immediacy when it counted most. His 3-pointer tied the game at 58 with just under 15 seconds left, giving Duke a crucial advantage that they would never relinquish.
Filipowski's resilience against Virginia was exactly what the Blue Devils needed to get back on track during their final five games of the season. To achieve similar results against Notre Dame on Tuesday night, he'll need the support of his teammates. Fostering trust within a unified team is paramount for them so they must continue demonstrating that resilience both on and off the court.
On Saturday night, Duke Blue Devils are still reeling from their 79-79 loss to Virginia in which they led for most of the game before seeing their rival score the last 12 points. To overcome this setback, players and coach Jon Scheyer must show resiliency.
Duke basketball needs to build upon, and freshman Kyle Filipowski epitomized this trait. His performance against Miami on Monday was instrumental in Duke's 81-59 loss, yet despite the setback he stayed positive and has been on an incredible streak of late; winning seven times this season as ACC freshman of the week while hoping for a chance at winning this year's league's freshman of the year award as well.
Filipowski had a remarkable performance against Miami, scoring 17 points, pulling in 14 rebounds and providing two assists in 35 minutes. Additionally, he was an integral part of Duke's defensive effort which limited Miami to only 30 percent shooting and maintained its double-digit lead throughout the second half.
Filipowski also saw the return of Jeremy Roach to the lineup after missing four games due to a toe injury. Roach scored eight points on 3-of-3 shooting with three assists and an important 3-pointer with 3:30 left in the first half that cut Miami's lead to 33-32.
With just under a minute left, he made another pivotal play, driving to the basket and catching Ryan Young's pass for a 66-64 lead. After being fouled, he hit both free throws for an impressive final margin of victory.
In addition to his play on the court, Filipowski exemplified what Duke basketball needs in this era of turmoil. He was the only member of his team who chanted Mike Krzyzewski's name in the locker room and had enough courage to say it to his teammates during an intermission meeting.
Duke had struggled at other points this season, but their resilience against Virginia is exactly what is needed to get past their loss and back on track in the Atlantic Coast Conference. If Filipowski continues performing at this level, Duke can count on him as a reliable force as they prepare for their next five games - three on the road included.
On Tuesday night, Duke played a better game on the floor in its 68-64 victory over Notre Dame than expected in what looked to be a blowout. After an opening 7-0 scoring run by the Irish, Duke responded with its own 14-0 run that stretched their lead to double figures at 14-2. Despite a 13-2 Notre Dame scoring run in the second half and a late 12-2 Irish surge that cut it down to 52-42 with 8:21 remaining, the Blue Devils maintained their advantage throughout.
Duke defense was at its best, holding Notre Dame to just 3 points off turnovers while also keeping them to nine from own fouls. While this game differed from Virginia and Miami's, Duke demonstrated that they still possess enough pieces for success even in conference play.
Filipowski, who scored 22 points, is an integral part of Duke basketball. His resiliency will be tested as they head into their final five regular season games.
He began the game with a layup and ended it on an important rebound that saved Duke from losing to No. 8 Virginia in the final seconds of regulation time.
After two games in which his ankle was sore and his mood soured, Filipowski had no choice but to push aside physical discomfort in order for the Blue Devils to secure their first ACC victory since March 1. Not only did he get that win, but the team as a whole did too - ending a three-game losing streak in the process.
Duke needs to build on this performance against a top-10 opponent if it wants to return to the NCAA tournament for the fifth time in its history. If they can demonstrate their grit and find players who can elevate their game to new heights, Duke could potentially win it all.
Over the past three days, Duke freshman Kyle Filipowski has experienced much pain and doubt. From his sprained ankle that kept him out against Virginia to ACC officials' incorrect decision in a tie-breaking play that denied him victory on Saturday, Filipowski's mood has been dark and his confidence low.
It was time for a change, and Filipowski proved it on Tuesday night when his 22 points, six rebounds, three assists and one block helped seal the deal in 31 minutes. It had been too long since someone had turned things around like this!
He refused to let an injury stop him and has continued to prove that he is one of the premier big men in the ACC. Over his last 12 games since January 1st, he has averaged 16.7 points, 9.7 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.2 blocks per contest.
His performance against the Irish was just a preview of what's to come when Duke takes on North Carolina in the next round. If they can pull off another rivalry win, it will help ease this season's burden and remind voters that Duke was more than just another team that struggled in March.
The Blue Devils have lost their last two matches against the Tar Heels. A loss would have been devastating for a program that has come so close to making progress this year, yet that doesn't mean the ACC should give up on them just yet.
Instead, it's essential to recall the lessons of the past and how they've helped the Blue Devils become better. While they are far from perfect - including committing 22 turnovers in their last game against Virginia - they have persevered and kept fighting even when down.
In a game that mattered more than just wins, the Blue Devils showed incredible resilience throughout every phase of play. Their defense was strong, their teamwork excellent, and they did everything in their power to ensure victory for them.
They showed they aren't afraid to shoot the ball when things get tough. Duke shot a season-high 58 percent from the floor and made nine 3-pointers in their victory over Virginia. Graduate student Jacob Grandison hit one crucial 3-pointer with under a minute remaining against Virginia; his four assists against Notre Dame made him an invaluable contributor off the bench. Plus, Jeremy Roach, who had struggled at free-throw lines recently, hit two crucial foul shots for an important win.