It is a season of same thing, different game for the Owls: junior guard Dionte Christmas scores. A lot. But he needs help from his supporting cast.
The Owls dropped another game against a big-time opponent, falling to No. 9 Duke Wednesday night, 74-64.
The Owls (6-7) got another big-time output from junior guard Dionte Christmas. Christmas dropped a team-high 23 points on the Blue Devils (12-1), including stringing together 15 consecutive points for his team in the second half, and outscoring Duke 15-6 during the spurt.
Christmas shook off a cold first half, one in which he missed all six of his attempts from deep and netted only five points. He put the Owls on his back in the second half, torching the Blue Devils for 18 points, while drilling three trifectas and draining seven of his eight free throws.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski took notice of Christmas, raining high praise on the Philadelphia native.
“I really like him,” Krzyzewski said. “He plays with a verve. Most coaches would like to have him on their team.”
Now, the box score will tell you that senior guard and fellow “One-Two Punch” member Mark Tyndale held up his end of the bargain. Tyndale’s final stat line reads: 20 points, 6 rebounds, and 7-of-12 from the field. Not shabby at first glance.
But 12 of his points came in the last 3:54 of the game. Granted, Tyndale picked up his fourth foul with 14:34 remaining in the game, but he has to stay on the floor for the Owls to compete. Especially against the elite teams on their challenging schedule.
The onus isn’t just on Tyndale.
Ryan Brooks has to step up and score. He had a terrific first half against Duke, drilling two threes on his way to seven first-half points. He finished the game with a career and team-high nine rebounds, but he also finished with seven points, meaning he did not score in the second half.
Freshman Lavoy Allen, who notched four blocks and six boards, scored only four points. He showed a fiery edge against the Blue Devils, picking up four fouls including an intentional foul away from the ball.
But coach Fran Dunphy said he needs Allen not to defer anymore and to score more often.
The hope is that Allen, Brooks, and Tyndale can score more often so Christmas wont have to.
Christmas torched Florida to the tune of the 32 points, while the next leading scorer had seven.
Someone else needs to step up. Then, maybe they can play with the big boys.
Terrance McNeil can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.