Two of the nation’s heavyweights squared off in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Wednesday, with No. 2 Duke beating No. 4 Wisconsin, 80-70, in Madison.
“It was a great team win for us,” Duke guard Tyus Jones said on Ferrall on the Bench. “Guys played really well tonight. It was a lot of fun.”
Jones scored a team-high 22 points for Duke, shooting 7-of-11 from the floor, including 2-of-3 from three-point range. The freshman from Apple Valley, Minn., also had six rebounds, four assists and just one turnover.
Senior Quinn Cook and junior Rasheed Sulaimon added 13 and 14 points, respectively, as Duke’s guards combined for 52 points.
“I know that it was a total group effort,” Jones said. “Everybody contributed in their own way. It was really a team win. We knew coming up here we’d all have to pitch in, and that’s exactly what we did.”
Freshman phenom Jahlil Okafor had 13 points, while Amile Jefferson and Justice Winslow combined for 11. Duke shot 65.2 percent the floor and 58.3 percent from three-point range.
“Everyone came to play,” Jones said. “Those guys really stepped up tonight. We all just had each other’s back. That’s what it was about. The guys came off the bench and gave us a spark. Each guy stepped up at a different time in the game. That was really nice to see. That just goes to show that it was a group effort.”
Defensively, Duke limited Wisconsin to 40.7 percent shooting from the floor, including 39.4 percent from inside the arc.
Traevon Jackson (25 points) and Frank Kaminsky (17) combined for 42 points on 12-of-24 shooting (50 percent), but Sam Dekker, Nigel Hayes and Josh Gasser combined for just 16 points on 5-of-14 shooting (35.7 percent).
The Blue Devils also had six steals.
“We had to focus on the defensive end,” Jones said. “We knew that going in. We were just trying to disrupt their offense, not let them get into their offense easily and force them into tough shots. I think we did a good job of that tonight. I think we knew if we wanted this tough win at their place in a hostile environment that it’d be won on the defensive end. So that’s where our energy and our effort was tonight. That’s where we focused.”
Duke, which ranks in the top six nationally in scoring offense, field-goal percentage and assists, improved to 8-0 with the win.
The Blue Devils have some time off before a home game against Elon (4-3) on Dec. 15, and a neutral-site game against defending national champion Connecticut (3-2) on Dec. 18. The game will be played at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, N.J, at 8 p.m. ET.
Jones said he likes how his team is coming together in the early season.
“We’re looking really good,” he said. “We have to keep wanting to get better, keep being hungry and keep getting better every day. Each game is a different test for us.”