MISSISSAUGA, Ontario—The 2018-19 Blue Devils took the court for the first time Wednesday at the Paramount Fine Foods Centre, kicking off the 2018 Duke Canada Tour with an 86-67 victory against Ryerson. Here are five observations from the first look at the Blue Devil squad.

Freshmen carry the load

Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett carried the Blue Devils' offense, combining for more than 60 points on the night. The duo helped Duke break the game open with a dominant 25-11 second-quarter run while scoring 37 of the team’s 40 first-half points. The nation’s top recruiting class will be a crucial part of the Blue Devils' effort to replace 86 percent of their scoring after the departure of last season’s starting five to the NBA.

"We complement each other a lot," Williamson said about this year's freshmen class. "We’re all talented players who want to win, and with a coach like Coach K who can help guide us in the right direction on how to play with each other and what it takes to win, we’re in a perfect situation."

Injuries a factor early

Already down two players for the duration of the tour with freshmen Cameron Reddish and Tre Jones nursing respective groin and hip injuries, the Blue Devils got a scare early Wednesday when sophomore Alex O’Connell was forced to leave the game after being poked in the eye in the first quarter. He was taken to the hospital during the game before being released later in the night, but the team announced Thursday morning that O'Connell will be out for the rest of the tour with an orbital floor fracture.



DeLaurier vocal on the court

Though not apparent on the scoreboards Wednesday, it appears junior Javin DeLaurier has accepted the challenge of replacing the leadership void left by the graduation of Grayson Allen last spring. DeLaurier was clearly the most vocal on the court against Ryerson, especially on the defensive end. He finished the contest with eight points and 11 rebounds.

"As an older guy it’s kind of my job to try and teach the young guys like the older guys taught me when I was a freshman," DeLaurier said. "We’ve really tried to be more vocal and help them through it to help make their transition to college basketball as easy as possible."

Jones’ ball handling missed

The Blue Devils were missing their main ball-handler Wednesday, and it showed with a slew of sloppy turnovers early on. Duke’s offense was stagnant with Barrett running the point in the opening quarter. Playing in his hometown, the 6-foot-7 forward coughed up the ball five times in the first half, allowing Ryerson to take a 17-15 lead through 10 minutes. This forced head coach Mike Krzyzewski to bring in sophomore Jordan Goldwire to handle the ball for much of the second half.

"The team as a unit, we were kind of nervous, just being our first game," Barrett said. "We didn’t really know what to expect, but now we got it out of the way and it’s time to regroup and get better."

Player of the game: Zion Williamson

The 6-foot-7, 285-pound freshman dispelled any worry of his weight Wednesday while putting on a show in his first appearance as a Blue Devil. Williamson took advantage of an undersized Ryerson team, bullying his way to a 29-point, 13-rebound performance that featured several dunks, layups and triples. The Spartanburg, S.C., native barreled through the Rams' defense in transition and created space with three shots from downtown.

"For the people that have seen me play, they know there is a lot more to my game," Williamson said. "Coach K saw more than just dunking in my game and he told me if I trusted him, he can help me showcase my ability. I trusted him and so far it has been working."