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Quotes: Duke 65, Tennessee State 55
Courtesy: Duke Sports Information
Release: 12/19/2016
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Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski
Opening Statement:
“It was a game where two teams really know how to play defense. There were points that were very difficult tonight. They’re a very good basketball team, they’ll have a chance at winning their conference. I told our guys this was the kind of opponent that you face in the NCAA Tournament—old, really well-coached team, and they play defense and rebound—in other words the two things they do best are play defense and rebound, so that’s going to come every night. I thought we did that tonight or else we would’ve lost. We held them to four offensive rebounds, and our defense was really good. We could talk about coming off exams and all of those things, but I’m not going to talk about that. We still had guys that were doing papers. That’s part of the lack of continuity of college basketball. You have exams, Christmas, semester, and how you handle those is a big time thing.  In the second half for about 10-11 minutes we played beautiful basketball. I thought it was a great half for Jayson [Tatum]. He’s been out with injury but tonight he did dirty work in the second half. His defensive rebounding led to three straight three-point shots which broke the game open a little bit and gave us a nine-point differential. That was a big game for him. These guys have been hurt. Even though we’ve played 12 games now, these guys haven’t played 12 games. Matt [Jones], Grayson [Allen], and Amile [Jefferson] have played 70-100 games. These young guys have to keep learning about that. I told someone in the room after one of the last games that we’re in October and not December with our team, and that’s part of our growth process. Amile was a monster with 18 boards. He’s had a really difficult time. He’s in graduate school. Not many kids even go to school as much. He has all of these papers due. So for this kid to come up with 18 boards was great. When he got up to the foul line I thought that was where fatigue set in as he was 1-8. But he was good. I thought it was a good win for us against a very good basketball team with a lot of stuff going on. It’s all good stuff and growth stuff. We have no problems; we just have growth. We have to grow, and the only way you grow is to play and be in these situations.”

On second half adjustments and the 22-3 run:
“I don’t know if it was second half adjustments as they took the lead, so they made better halftime adjustments than we did. I thought we played defense—we had five-to-six stops in a row—and we share the ball well. You didn’t know who scored. When we do that, we’re very good. For that 10-12 minutes, we were very good. I don’t think they were bad, I just think we were really good. When we went to half court we went to certain matchups, and they worked for about six-seven times, which doesn’t happen all the time but it did during that run. We had that spurt, but I don’t think it’s because they wore down. They’re old and deep, and I like their team a lot. They’re good, hard-nosed kids and share the ball a lot. They play defense and it’s tough to score against them.”

On Jayson Tatum’s utility:
“He had a matchup that we thought he could take advantage of, and I thought he passed up three wide-open shots. I got mad at him three times. They’re rhythm shots and he should just shoot them. But that’s part of being in that environment, and he’ll do that eventually. When he does that, he’ll go up some notches and he has notches to go up. What I’m trying to do is show him confidence that in that type of situation, I’m going to you, and we’ve got guys that you can play off of. Grayson, Luke [Kennard], they’ll share the ball, and once you get it, knock that sucker down. We’ll really be rolling when we get that stuff going. That’s what we’re trying to build. Again, I think it’s hard for the freshmen going through these academics for the first time. Frank [Jackson] has only practiced once in this last week. But they’ll be back. Marques [Bolden], he’ll be there. For Harry [Giles], to go on the court tonight was good. It can’t be about me working on something or the first time playing—it’s got to be about winning. You have to learn to do that.”


Duke Junior Grayson Allen
“Everyone can win any night, so for us, in games like this where we’re playing against an old, tough, really, really good team, it helps us prepare.”

On Duke’s big second-half run:
“It started with stringing together five or six stops, and we were able to run from that, get some quick points.  In the first half, we played really, really slow, and that’s not how we want to play.  So when we’re able to run like that, we can get runs going.  We’re a team that can get hot and make shots like we did.  With Luke [Kennard] and Jayson [Tatum] shooting the ball the way they did in the second half, we can really get going like that.  But you have to string together stops in order to make that run so that was really key.”

When asked how he thinks Duke pushes through tough stretches where they aren’t playing as well as they’d like:
“We can’t let it affect our defense when we do.  We have to still get stops, even if they come down and make a big play on offense or we miss a couple of shots on our offensive end, we still have to get back on defense and get stops.  In the second half, we had a stretch where we strung together five or six stops, and really that’s what’s going to be best for us – just getting stops.  The defense has to always be there, no matter what.”

When asked how Luke Kennard’s play has helped his own offensive game:
“He’s playing great.  It allows me to do different things – I’m able to pass more, play off the ball more, play off of him more because he’s scoring the ball so well and there’s so much attention drawn to him.  Really when I’m driving, now I’m looking for him, looking to find him whenever I can because I know if I find him open, he’s going to knock it down.”


Duke Sophomore Luke Kennard
“We just weren’t ourselves in the first half.  We started off slow and we just couldn’t really get a rhythm.  We were just kind of being selfish on offense and defense, and I think in the second half we kind of had our moments and some periods where we shared the ball and we were very unselfish.  That’s what helped us get a lead and we just kind of kept it from there.”

“We knew Tennessee State was going to be a really, really good team.  They’re a veteran group, they’re really tough, they play hard, they have a lot of energy, and they’re going to have a lot of success this year.  We really believe that.  They can be an NCAA Tournament team and they can possibly upset some teams.  They’re a great team.  We want to take each game seriously.  We believe nothing is given – we’ve got to earn everything and that’s something that kind of happened tonight.”

On Duke’s strong second-half run keyed by defense:
“We had a veteran group out on the court and we kind of just got together and knew we needed to get a few stops and knew we needed to pick it up a little bit because we couldn’t find a rhythm offensively or defensively throughout the entire game.  [There were] about 10 minutes where we played like a veteran group, like the team that we need to be.  Even a couple of young guys played like older guys, and that’s what we need.  We’re going to build off of that.  This game was a learning experience for us.  We can’t take anything for granted, and we’ve got to play each and every game like it’s the biggest game of the year.”

When asked what has led to his consistent play throughout the season so far:
“I think a lot of it is just being more comfortable.  The speed of the game has really just slowed down for me.  Last year was a learning experience for me, and the game has just really slowed down and I feel a lot more comfortable.”


Duke Freshman Harry Giles
On his first true game action after such a long time recovering from injuries:
“It was just up and down, just trying to figure it out, trying to get used to the speed.  Sometimes you’re like, ‘Am I out here?’  And it was fast too.  It was just fun to be out there, just trying to figure it out and get a feel for it.  It was frustrating, just because of how it went obviously, but I’m not even worried about that.  I’m just thankful to be able to walk out on the court healthy and play in a game.”

When asked what he was thinking after he went to the bench following his first playing time of the season:
“’Come on H, what’re you doing?  What’s going on?’  But I understand.  Personally, I’m going to be on myself hard for this game.  It was terrible, my performance, and I’ve just got to get better.  I understand why it’s happening but at the same time I don’t.  I’m cheering my teammates on all the time, and I just have to get better and improve myself to play.”

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