With Career Night, Scheyer Leads Rout Of Runnin' Bulldogs

With the student section home for winter break during Tuesday night’s game against Garnder-Webb, trademark Cameron Crazie chants were noticeably absent.

Not that it really mattered for Jon Scheyer. Bereft of hearing “Scheyer’s on fire,” the senior instead let his play speak for himself, finishing with a career-high 36 points on 11-of-13 shooting. He also tallied nine assists and eight rebounds in the 113-68 win over Gardner-Webb.

“Jon’s performance was spectacular,” head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “To get 36 points on only 13 shots—that’s about as good as you can get. He also passed up shots to give others shots…. He had a great game.”

When the two teams matched up before the opening tip off, it seemed that the Blue Devils’ noticeable size advantage would be the story of the day. No. 8 Duke’s (8-1) big men would carry the scoring load over a Gardner-Webb (3-5) team that boasted a 6-foot-3 power forward. The guards, meanwhile, would have their hands full with a good perimeter cast, including Grayson Flittner, last seen dropping 32 points against North Carolina at the Dean Dome.

It didn’t turn out that way. Kyle Singler, hampered by an ankle injury, didn’t score until the second half. Lance Thomas, one of the stars of last week’s St. John’s game, finished against Gardner-Webb with only five points. Of the big men, only Brian Zoubek played well against his much smaller competition, finishing with 13 points in only 15 minutes.

No, it turned out to be the guards that dominated against the overmatched Runnin’ Bulldogs. Along with Scheyer, Andre Dawkins also performed well. The guard hit 6-of-9 from the floor, and 3-of-5 from beyond the arc, en route to 16 points.

The freshman phenom’s play was especially amazing considering the turmoil he faced over the past week. After losing his sister in a car accident just over a week ago, Dawkins stayed with his family in Virginia until the funeral Saturday. He came back to Durham that night with Krzyzewski and assistant coach Nate James, both of whom he credited with helping make a difficult time easier.

“I was really pleased with Andre, going through the week that he’s gone through,” Krzyzewski said. “I thought his performance tonight was outstanding.”

But the night still belonged to Scheyer—from its beginning, when he hit the first bucket of the day with a 3-pointer from the wing, to its waning minutes, when he grabbed a defensive rebound and rifled an outlet pass to Zoubek, who hit a layup despite contact, putting Duke up by 40.

That pass, his last of the game, was just one of many great ones that he made Tuesady. While it will most likely get overlooked by his 24 points in the first half and 85 percent shooting for the game, Scheyer also led the game in assists—nine to only three turnovers.

His best pass came with 12 minutes to go in the second half. Scheyer drove into the paint and was immediately double-teamed. He somehow, in the maze of bodies, faked left, then executed a perfect behind-the-back pass to Singler, who stood at the right block. Singler hit the layup, drew contact and made the free throw.

“That one pass he gave Kyle was a really good play,” Krzyzewski said. Then, adding with a laugh, “Okay, it was a sensational play.”

Scheyer followed it up two series later with a left-handed runner that he casually tossed over his head, but that, of course, found nothing but net. And, after grabbing a defensive board on the Runnin’ Bulldogs’ subsequent possession, he led a fast break that found Singler on the wing for a wide-open 3, putting Duke up 81-45.

He was a stalwart at the defensive end as well, holding Flittner to only 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting, well below the 32 he scored against North Carolina. And, as Krzyzewski pointed out after the game, the only two 3’s that Flittner managed to hit during the game came when Scheyer was not on the court guarding him.

Even though he had just played one of the best games of his career, Scheyer stayed humble in the locker room.

“I hadn’t been playing as well as I could have,” he said. “So, tonight it felt really good to get out there and play, and I guess it worked out for me.”


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