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Buffalo Bulls at Duke Blue Devils: Takeaways from the big road loss

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Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

Click through on the sidebar for the instant recap from UB's loss to Duke Saturday night, while we've got our takeaways.

Matt's Takes

1. Rodell Wigginton... again, and Nikola Rakicevic as his immediate sub

It was only a few minutes before his second foul came in, but Rodell didn't look out of place at all among the blue-chip Dukies. At some point highlighting his improvement from last season will get old, but he continues to impress me, especially as he got to the rim in the early going.

I was somewhat surprised to see Rakicevic fit into that role, because he's gotten such limited minutes to this point. Nikola didn't light the world on fire, but we continue to see a smart, responsible player, who knows his limitations and minimized his mistakes over 11 minutes. I don't know if David Kadiri is injured, or if this is a sign of a shift in Oats' perception of Rakicevic, but Nikola did well with his opportunities.

2. Three point shooting

UB did a good job of getting open, unhurried looks last night, and the shots looked absolutely terrible. I can't argue much with taking threes when you've got that long to set up, but everything just looked bad.

Must Reads

Player of the game: Ikenna Smart

Maybe he wasn't the most impressive Bull yesterday, but not only did Smart lead all Bulls in rebounds, with 9 in just 24 minutes, but he also pulled down 4 offensive boards, most of any player in the game. He was a big reason Buffalo held steady with Duke on the glass and quietly has 18 rebounds in the last two games.

Better yet, Smart was as strong offensively as in any game this season. 6 points, all from the floor while playing a season high 24 minutes. He's putting it together.

Robby's Takes

1. Defense is looking really good as of late

Things did get away a little bit in the second half but all around I saw a lot of improvement here. Rebounding looked a lot cleaner in this outing. Holding Duke to the poor shooting performance that they had is no easy feat either. This team is still improving and it's a really good thing to see.

2. Skeete needs to limit the amount of shots he's taking

I like Skeete, he's shown to be a great leader for this team. What I don't like is seeing him miss 10/12 shots from him most nights. If it takes 8 shots for Skeete to make a three, I'd much rather see Massinburg get more time at the Shooting Guard spot or even Rakicevic (WHO NEEDS MORE THAN 11 MINUTES). I'm not saying bench the guy, but he shouldn't be creating this many empty posessions for us.

3. Willie Conner is in a slump

Willie looked great at the beginning of the season but since Canisius, he just doesn't look the same. He only had 1-4 shooting this time around and yet again he didn't make any three's. I'm hoping he gets back into the groove soon because he can definitely play much better than this.

Player of the Game: CJ Massinburg

This one was CJ hands down. Whenever he was on the floor, the offense generated momentum. CJ was able to finish on so many shots that look crazy. I'm very happy with this Freshman guard.

Drew's Takes

1. Rough shooting night for all

Early in the season, we were shooting 3's very effectively, but we have seemed to cool off the past couple of days. Against Duke we shot 33% with Skeete going 2-12 and Hamilton going 1-11. I didn't feel as poorly about the offense though as these stats make it seem. Obiviously Duke is a much better team, so I can handle this.

2. Brandon Ingram is good

Yeah, I know this is a UB blog, but I have to give credit where credit is due. Ingram's vitals are extremely impressive and he was all over the court on Saturday. Whether he was driving to the rim, stepping back and taking a mid-range shot, or shooting one from distance, he can do it all. He will be ready for the NBA shortly after he gets some more experience against higher profile opponents. It's nice that CJ will always have that block against him though.

3. Key players need to stay out of foul trouble

I'm looking at you Lamonte and Rodell. Well, at least they were the ones who got them early. Lamonte quickly racked up 3 personals in the 1st 10 minutes of the first half, causing him to sit the bench for the remainder. Playing against an opponent like Duke, and being a leader of the team, you can't put yourself in that situation. It hasn't happened every game, but there have been more than one occurrence. We were down at halftime by 10 points and two of our top performers were not on the court due to foul trouble.

Player of the Game:

See Jay