After spending much of last season struggling to score, the Blue Devils did their best to put any lingering offensive woes behind them Friday night.
Duke (1-0) opened its regular season with a bang, scoring its most points in nearly 10 years as it throttled cross-town N.C. Central 121-56 in the Eagles' first game in Division I.
The Blue Devils led from start to finish as seven players finished in double figures, including all three freshmen. Taylor King topped all scorers with 20 points, shooting 5-for-7 from behind the arc. Nolan Smith added 16 points and four assists while Kyle Singler chipped in 15 points and eight rebounds.
"My teammates got me open a lot," King said. "We just moved the ball well today. I just got open shots and knocked them down."
Duke's talent and depth were too much for the undersized Eagles (0-1) as the Blue Devils used a 10-man rotation to wear N.C. Central down. No Blue Devil clocked more than 24 minutes and nine different players had scored by the time Duke took a 24-5 lead with 13:02 to go in the first half.
Duke recorded 27 assists on the evening and got the crowd going early with an impressive passing sequence. With Duke up 2-0, Greg Paulus drove toward the basket and kicked out to DeMarcus Nelson in the right corner. The Blue Devils proceeded to send the ball around the perimeter as the ball passed from Nelson to Gerald Henderson to Singler before reconnecting with Paulus in the left corner. The junior point guard drained the trey to give Duke the early 5-0 lead.
"I like the way we shared the ball tonight," head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "When you get some really good passing-not necessarily fancy-you don't know who scored, you just know the team scored. I love that part of the game."
On a night marked by offensive fireworks, the Blue Devils did their best to turn heads on defense as well. Midway through the first half, Duke broke from its traditional man-to-man and utilized the zone defense that it had previewed in its exhibition contests. The Blue Devils continued to use the scheme for several possessions in each half.
"If we can get it down right, it will be a great addition for us," Brian Zoubek said. "Zone is something else to throw at them. Tough man is really tiring. Laying back in the zone a little bit, as long as we can stay active in the zone, it's great to get us easy transition points."
Krzyzewski felt his team played fairly well in the zone-called "orange" in honor of Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim-and will continue to employ it throughout the year.
"I send tapes after each game to Boeheim and he critiques me," Krzyzewski said. "You got two guys who are over 60, and this is how we get off in life now-by sharing tapes of his damn zone.
"I've learned to teach it and all the Duke fans are happy now."
Martynas Pocius left the game in the second half with a bloody nose but returned later and should be available fortonight against New Mexico State. After the game, players and coaches from both teams posed for a photograph at midcourt to commemorate NCCU's first Division I contest. Duke's scoring output was its highest since Dec. 21, 1997, when it beat Mercer 126-64.
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