The way to defeat Duke is to bring Tre Jones to threes, or so they thought, until the Blue Devils win 75-73 against Virginia Tech on Friday night could. The freshman point-keeper, who scored 26.5 percent from a distance after last night, was able to do what he wanted in the forefront, when UCF nearly upset Duke in the second round, and he responded with a 1 in 8 score. He had not done more than a three-pointer in a game since he got two against San Diego St. on November 19th.
So Virginia Tech followed the correct plan as they went to much more trouble, R.J. Barrett and Zion Williamson inside, as they prevented Jones from ending the open catching and shooting, but instead of fulfilling the hopes of his team, Tre Jones responded by transforming himself into Trae Young. Jones played every 40 minutes, scoring 5 out of 7. He scored a season high of 22 points with eight assists and zero rounds. It was undoubtedly his best game of the year, and there was a clear message: underestimating Duke's sometimes overlooked freshman at his own risk.
For Jones, who comes from the suburbs of the Twin Cities and plays for his older brother Tyus The Timberwolves, the fight for the Final Four in Minneapolis is even more emotional than most others. His mother Debbie was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer, Jones announced a few weeks ago.
"My mother used to be my trainer or participated in my games, and now that she's running out, she can not be there. So much stuff now," Jones said after Duke won the ACC tournament. "I definitely want it more and I want to do it for them."
But with top-shooter Cam Reddish due to a last-minute injury, it seemed the Blue Devils would look more dimensional than ever in offense. Instead, the team trusted Jones to do the games he had not done before.
"These guys believed in me all year, especially after the last game in which I logged off at 3," Jones said after the game. "They always believed in me. The coach kept telling me to take the shots and these guys always told me to take my shots and they could fall tonight. "
" Coach was the first to say, 'Tre, they're playing you out, shoot them, nobody tells you not to shoot' em, we all have faith in you. "