After three consecutive games away from home against Power-5 opponents, including back-to-back double-digit comeback victories against Texas and then-No. 7 Florida, Duke got out to a hot start Saturday to give its starters an opportunity to rest up prior to the start of conference play next weekend.

The top-ranked Blue Devils used an explosive first half to build a 26-point halftime lead and handily defeat South Dakota 96-80 at Cameron Indoor Stadium. With the victory, Duke improved to 10-0 for the 15th time in program history and continued to impress despite starting four inexperienced freshmen. 

Senior captain Grayson Allen led the charge out of the gates for the Blue Devils, pouring in 15 points in the first 10 minutes. That evoked “Grayson’s Winning” chants from the student section with Duke holding South Dakota to just 13 points in that span.

“The first shot I got was an easy one, an easy transition three from Tre just pushing the ball ahead,” Allen said. “From then, it was just continuing to attack. I had a lot of middle drives that I saw, a couple baseline drives and just taking up the space that was on the floor— and if no one comes over and helps, just scoring the ball.” 

Allen finished the game with a team-high 25 points on 8-of-11 shooting and seems as though he has moved past a quiet four-game stretch following his 37-point outburst against then-No. 2 Michigan State.

Freshman Marvin Bagley III once again showed why he was the nation’s top recruit in the Class of 2017. His 19-point, 12-rebound performance has become the norm in the first month of the year. The Phoenix native now has eight double-doubles on the season and is averaging more than 20 points and 10 rebounds through his first 10 collegiate games.

“I think what we’ve learned is we have two of the exceptional players in America in Marvin and Grayson,” Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “We’re 10-0, and with this schedule it’s been really good. Can it be better? Yeah. Can it be worse? Hell yes. It can be a lot worse. It can be a hell of a lot worse than it can be better.”

After Tyler Hagedorn drained back-to-back attempts from downtown to start the contest for the Coyotes (7-3), a 3-pointer by Trevon Duval sparked a 26-9 run for the Blue Devils in the next eight minutes. Despite entering Saturday’s matchup with a 3-point conversion rate worse than 16 percent, he has made a few big shots to ignite Duke offensively. 

Duval continued to facilitate the offense throughout the game, racking up eight assists and adding 14 points for the Blue Devils, who looked like their second-half selves from last week in Portland in the first 20 minutes against South Dakota. 

Duke (10-0) once again used exquisite ball movement to create open looks and increase its conversion rate. The Blue Devils had 17 assists on 35 baskets and shot 56.5 percent in the contest. However, despite crisp, clean passing the first half, Duke became a little sloppy after mounting a 20-point lead. The Blue Devils finished the contest with 19 turnovers after failing to cough up the ball in the first 12 minutes of play and got outscored by 10 in the second half.

“We came out very sharp. We gave up a few threes right at the beginning of the first half that we didn’t want to, but we sharpened up after that and I felt like everyone had good intensity,” Allen said. “It just kind of dropped off in the second half when we let them get, I think, 50 points, and it’s something we have to continue through the whole game.” 

Freshman Gary Trent Jr. also continued his struggles from the field Saturday with a 3-for-10 performance. Trent is now down to a mere 34.9 percent from the field and 29.6 percent from beyond the arc on the season, after projecting to be a key component to the Blue Devils ability to stretch the floor from the perimeter.

Duke used its early lead as an opportunity to stretch its rotation and rest its starting five. Duval was the only Blue Devil on the floor for more than 30 minutes, and head coach Mike Krzyzewski gave extended minutes to Jordan Goldwire and Javin DeLaurier, who had not seen much of the court for the last week. 

The Blue Devils will host St. Francis Tuesday at 9 p.m. their next time out before opening their conference slate next Saturday at Boston College.  

“We’ve got to keep getting better, especially defensively, and we still have to put a 40-minute game together,” Allen said. “I don’t think we’ve done that recently where from start to finish it was a Duke team.”