Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Duke says it owes one to St. John’s after last year’s loss
By ADAM ZAGORIADURHAM, N.C. –– After last year’s loss to St. John’s at Madison Square Garden, No. 2 Duke has a message for the Red Storm.
“We feel like we owe them one,” junior forward Jack White said Friday. “We know that the last time we lost a non-conference game in Cameron was against St. John’s. So it’s a game we’re really hungry for, we really want to do well in and win and obviously make a statement as a team and get better as a team.”
That non-conference game was back on Feb, 26, 2000 when White, Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett and company were either infants or not even born yet.
Duke leads St. John’s 16-7 all-time, but the Red Storm won last year’s game at Madison Square Garden, 81-77, in a loss that Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski called “disgusting.” Shamorie Ponds went for 33 in that game.
Now here comes Ponds and the Red Storm (16-5) looking to score what would be their biggest NCAA Tournament resume win of the season at Duke (18-2), their last non-conference game of the season outside the Big East. The game marks Chris Mullin’sfirst appearance at Duke since his official visit in the early 1980s.
“[Ponds] just plays with a lot of confidence, a lot of freedom and you know he’s really good,” White said. “He can make those plays. He can go both ways, he can shoot, he can finish. I think we just need to bring the game to him and be the aggressor. We can’t be on the back foot and let him attack us. We need to really take our defense to him. And especially, with Tre he plays defense as well as anybody in the country.”
Jones watched last year’s game as a high school student at Apple Valley (MN) High School and said, “We were cheering for Duke last year. So anybody they lose to, we obviously want to get them back…Coach mentioned today how they beat us last year so other guys have had that feeling.”
Jones, arguably the best on-ball defender in the nation, is back healthy after a separated shoulder in the Syracuse game and is looking forward to trying to contain Ponds, who’s averaging 20.9 points, 5.7 assists and 4.6 rebounds and is coming off a 26-point, 8-rebound, 8-assists outing in the win at Creighton.
“I’m just trying to make him take tough shots,” Jones said. “He’s a really good scorer, a volume shooter so I’m trying to force him into tough shots and hopefully he’s not making them.”
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.