In the opener of the Blue Devil Challenge, Duke looked not at all challenged.
With a tremendous performance on the glass, quick and effective ball movement and an efficient night shooting the ball from outside, the Blue Devils took command in a 90-60 win over visiting Bucknell with a big run starting late in the first half and never looked back. Four Duke players reached double digits, sophomores Mark Mitchell and Tyrese Proctor paced the Blue Devils in scoring and freshman Jared McCain put together his own 17-point double-double in the big win.
"The two things from me I looked at: one, the rebounding," head coach Jon Scheyer said, "... and we had 23 assists, seven turnovers, which is great. I think that's how we can play with some really good sequences where we flowed in the offense."
On Mitchell's career-high scoring night, Scheyer described his forward as "the ultimate winning player."
Duke met its only major test of the night when Kyle Filipowski went down after getting tangled up with a Bucknell player while posting up on the offensive end. Grabbing his lower right leg, the sophomore was helped to the locker room with 4:04 to go in the first half. He scored eight points on 3-of-4 shooting with five rebounds before exiting the game. He returned to the court on his own prior to the start of the second half and started the second with no apparent limitations, though the dominant victory allowed Scheyer to get his leading scorer some rest.
"The fact he could get back in there and play was encouraging... we feel very optimistic about his situation," Scheyer said about Filipowski.
The Blue Devils — with Filipowski back in the game — picked up where they had left off even without their star big man, as Proctor and senior guard Jeremy Roach splashed in back-to-back threes before McCain added another one minute later to balloon Duke’s 15-point halftime lead, igniting a 23-5 run which eventually had the Blue Devils ahead 67-36.
The rest of the second half allowed freshmen Sean Stewart and TJ Power to get into the game as Scheyer went with a four-freshman lineup for some time as the clock wound down.
The Blue Devils took another step forward in the rebounding department after gritty battles on the glass against Arizona and Michigan State in which Duke allowed 15 and 13 offensive rebounds, respectively. McCain looked to be a catalyst for the Blue Devils by crashing the boards and pushing on the break early. Duke out-rebounded Bucknell 46-27 and scored 15 points on the break and McCain notched a double-double.
"That's exactly what Coach Scheyer wants. Always. Guard rebounding and push on the break leads to easy transition threes," McCain said.
Duke also improved its play above the rim, slamming five dunks as a team and commanding the area around both rims. Rebounds and interior dominance meant that second-chance points were plenty. And Foster, who became the Blue Devils’ offense late in Duke’s Champions Classic win, played a more minor role Friday, as the Harrisburg, N.C., native often looked pass-first, but he still scored nine to go with a handful of rebounds and a team-high six assists.
Led by Mitchell and Filipowski early, Duke used its size and swift ball movement to get open looks both inside and beyond the arc as the Blue Devils collected 23 assists while only turning the ball over seven times. Proctor has 10 assists with no turnovers in his last two outings and a 23-4 assist-to-turnover ratio on the season. Mitchell dominated with his 20 points, with 16 coming during the first half, and McCain made his first 3-point attempt of the night — and five of his seven overall — after striking out from outside Tuesday.
Bucknell did not let Duke’s lead grow too large too quickly, though, as senior guard Jack Forrest scored 15 straight for the Bison in the middle of the first half. He entered the night shooting 46.2% from deep and continued to be a valuable presence for the otherwise inefficient-shooting Bucknell squad. His shooting touch helped open up opportunities for his teammates later in the first half when Bucknell closed the gap to four at 33-29. He only scored two points the rest of the night.
A lightning-quick run by the Blue Devils — all with Filipowski in the Duke locker room — helped erase any semblance of hope for the visitors as Proctor and Roach hit back-to-back threes, Ryan Young threw down a two-handed dunk and Mitchell added three more the hard way to put Duke back up by 15, after which the Blue Devils cruised through the second half for their third win of the season and first at the Blue Devil Challenge.
Duke takes on La Salle at home Tuesday night in its next matchup in the multi-team event.
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Micah Hurewitz is a Trinity senior and was previously a sports managing editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.