The Blue Devils went into the locker room of tonight’s Sweet Sixteen game down four.
When they came out fans witnessed a more aggressive team dedicated to getting the ball to the front of the rim. That’s where RJ Barrett changed the entire complexion of the game. Barrett would finish with 18 points, 11 assists in Duke’s 75-73 win over a stubborn Virginia Tech team.
Fifteen of his 18 points came in the second half.
Despite struggling from the field (1-6) in the first half, Barrett dished out seven assists. “I had more assists in the first half so it kinda started to spread out for me and I was able to get to the bucket,” said Barrett. His willingness to go to other parts of his game is one of the things that makes him a special player.
Down four at halftime, Coach K would straight to Barrett who would continuously take the ball to the basket. There wasn’t a Hokie who could stay in front and when they did, RJ simply went to his step-through. Just how dominate was Barrett coming out of the locker room? He would score or assist on 17 points of the first 19 points to start the second half.
Opponents should expect Barrett to be the type of guy who comes up big in big games. After all, he led Team Canada to the FIBA U19 World Cup. On the way to leading Canada to the gold, Barrett torched Coach John Calipari’s USA team for 38 points, 13 rebounds and 5 assists. Barrett referenced how the FIBA game resembled tonight’s game against the Hokies. “You got execute. You got to get stops. Every game is physical,” said Barrett.
Barrett will need that same outlook on Sunday when he’ll face another physical team in Michigan State.