DURHAM, N.C. (AP)—Only at Duke could there be so much dissatisfaction with a 30-point victory.
The eighth-ranked Blue Devils opened a season of high expectations Monday night with an 80-49 rout of Presbyterian in the 2K Sports Classic, but there weren’t many people from Duke who were content with it.
Not Kyle Singler, who scored 12 of his 19 points during the decisive first half but uncharacteristically missed seven shots. Not Nolan Smith, who scored 15 points but admitted the Blue Devils “were just off.”
And certainly not Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski, who improved to 27-2 in home openers at the school despite his team’s 21 turnovers. During last season’s 28-6 finish, only twice did they turn it over more often.
“It’s almost like we’re trying a little bit too hard on the offensive end at times,” Krzyzewski said.
Still, the Blue Devils (1-0) did enough to win in the first half by overwhelming the cold-shooting Blue Hose with two dominating spurts, then cruised to their 60th straight nonconference win at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Lance Thomas and Jon Scheyer added 12 points apiece for Duke. The Blue Devils will face Georgia Southern—which beat Houston 65-63—on Tuesday night with a semifinal berth at Madison Square Garden on the line.
“Tonight, (it) just wasn’t there. That’s on us,” Singler said. “Our standards weren’t met tonight, and we’ve just got to come back tomorrow with a different attitude, a different mind-set. I know we will.”
After rolling to two exhibition victories against Division II schools by an average of 58.5 points, the Blue Devils were met with only slightly more resistance from a Presbyterian program entering its second season in Division I.
Duke—which hasn’t lost the first game at its notoriously noisy arena since 1982, and won its ninth straight season opener overall—denied the Blue Hose (0-1) their first road victory in 24 tries at this level.
“Some people thought it was crazy for even wanting to play Duke in your opening” game, Presbyterian coach Gregg Nibert said. “But it’s a dream for our program … They’re awesome. (Krzyzewski is) awesome. Their players are awesome.”
Still, Coach K saw plenty of room for improvement, even as Duke controlled both ends of the court. The Blue Devils held the Blue Hose to 1-of-11 shooting during one early stretch before reeling off 19 straight points—coming away with points on seven straight trips downcourt—to take a 20-point lead. At one point late in the half, the Blue Hose had more than twice as many turnovers (11) as field goals (five), and they finished with 28 giveaways and shot 30 percent.
“I would say (Krzyzewski) was happy with our defense,” Singler said. “But that might be it.”
The Blue Devils, who returned nine of the top 11 scorers from an offense that ranked fourth nationally last season by averaging 83.2 points, had nine players log at least 13 minutes while Krzyzewski searched for a combination that clicked and met his perennially high standard of performance.
“We can play better offensively, and that’s the only way that you get to be really good,” Krzyzewski said. “We want to be really good.”
Duke took the lead for good during the defense-dominated 13-2 run during which the Blue Devils allowed one basket during a 7 1/2 -minute stretch, a spurt capped by Greg Paulus’ 3-pointer from the left wing that made it 13-4 with 12 1/2 minutes before halftime.
Then, they gave themselves plenty of breathing room when Smith and Scheyer keyed the 19-0 run, a burst capped by Gerald Henderson’s free throw with 3:51 left that made it 36-11. By that point, Scheyer had 12 points by himself, prompting those clever Cameron Crazies to chant, “Scheyer’s winning.”
“When they drive the middle, it’s like opening the Red Sea,” Nibert said. “They are awesome either dunking or kicking out. We really wanted to force the ball (to the) baseline, and at times we did.”
Al’Lonzo Coleman finished with 13 points to lead Presbyterian, and his layup 17 seconds in gave the Blue Hose their only lead. Freshman Bo King also had 13 points on 3-of-15 shooting.
Presbyterian will play Houston on Tuesday in a consolation game.