Four minutes into Saturday's game and with the score tied 6-6, freshman Jon Scheyer drained a three from the top of the key.
The very next play, DeMarcus Nelson stole the ball, passing it off at halfcourt to Gerald Henderson, who fed Josh McRoberts for a monster one-handed dunk that brought the crowd of 9,314 to its feet.
N.C. Central called a timeout, and the Blue Devils never looked back en route to a 92-63 victory in their final exhibition game in Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Scheyer, along with Nelson and fellow freshman Brian Zoubek, led Duke's balanced scoring attack with 14 points each on a night when five Blue Devils scored in double figures.
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Despite what the scoreboard read, however, Duke was still plagued by small mental mistakes that need to be worked out before the regular season, head coach Mike Krzyzewski said.
"We made mental errors-not knowing team foul situations. Three times we made good plays when we were almost out of bounds, we should've called timeout. Instead we threw the ball, and each time we threw it away," Krzyzewski said. "Especially with our point guard out... we need to have more people thinking as a team in those situations."
The number of fouls dictated the pace of the game as much as the Blue Devils' tough defense, particularly in the first half. Fifty-four fouls were called over the course of the game, including 29 in the first period alone.
"It's a disjointed game with so many fouls," Krzyzewski said. "What happens then, especially with a young team, is you start thinking about what you were supposed to do-just you-instead of what we're supposed to do."
The play of Duke's freshmen was solid again, even in a game in which the team struggled to find its rhythm.
Scheyer went 3-for-6 from behind the arc, and Zoubek shot 75 percent from the field.
"A lot of them have come in really strong-Gerald and Lance [Thomas] are so athletic, Brian is so big and Jon is just one of the toughest guys I've met," sophomore forward Dave McClure said. "As long as they keeping coming everyday, with as hard as they've been playing, they're going to pick it up fast. They've already shown tremendous growth."
The freshmen clocked a collective 92 minutes against N.C. Central, and the experience they gained on the court will help prepare them for the tougher road ahead.
With seven games scheduled over a period of 16 days starting Nov. 12, Krzyzewski said he will need to monitor how the freshmen are dealing with so many games within a short time period for the first time in their careers.
"It seems like because people follow us-we've won national championships and Final Fours and all that-we're playing two exhibition games, and that's nothing," Krzyzewski said. "It's the first two games for a lot of these kids. And so they are anxious. They are a little bit more tired."
But despite their relative inexperience, the freshmen continue to impress and earn the respect of their teammates.
"They're really ready to play right now-probably more ready to play at this point than we were as a freshmen," sophomore Marty Pocius said. "Starting these two games for them, I think it's a huge experience to handle that pressure, and they handled it well."
Josh McRoberts played another solid all-around game Saturday. The sophomore put up 13 points, going 4-for-8 from the floor, and pulled down nine rebounds in addition to handling the ball in transition.... The Blue Devils forced the Eagles into committing 27 turnovers and converted those opportunities into 34 points on the other end of the floor."We're scoring a lot of points off our defense, even though we're not picking up as much full-court," Krzyzewski said.
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