It may not count toward their record, but in their first showing since a March 18 loss to Tennessee in the NCAA tournament, the Blue Devils came out on Coach K Court with a vengeance and topped 100 points in its exhibition against UNC Pembroke.
It was Duke’s game from the jump, and it closed out the exhibition with a 109-64 win against the Braves at Cameron Indoor Stadium Wednesday night. 13 Blue Devils saw the court, but it was sophomore captain Tyrese Proctor who spearheaded the win with 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the three.
"I thought it was great for our team just to get a feel for playing in Cameron. You know, it's a different feeling..." said head coach Jon Scheyer after the win. "We came out really ready to play."
No. 2 Duke took the court and Proctor decided it was his day. Simple as that. On the Blue Devils’ first offensive possession, extended by two UNC Pembroke fouls, he drained his first 3-pointer from near the top of the arc. 1:20 later, he made his second from the corner. Twenty-nine seconds until his third from the opposite corner. Twenty-nine more, and he was right where he started, sinking his fourth trey in less than three minutes. The Sydney native closed out his day with a 62.5% success rate from outside and an impressive five rebounds for the 6-foot-5 point guard in 20 minutes of play.
It was an offensive frenzy. With 59 points and four double-digit scorers in the first half, Duke’s lauded lineup put on a show. Aside from Proctor and his sharpshooting masterclass, sophomore center Kyle FIlipowski showed off his newfound mobility, opening the second half with a layup and dunk just 29 seconds apart. The reigning ACC Rookie of the Year put up a team-leading 17 points and Mark Mitchell eclipsed 10 points less than three minutes into the second half — the last starter to hit that mark.
"Maybe it was just me, but he had a quiet 17," said Scheyer of Filipowski. "All of a sudden, you look up and he's got 17 points; it just comes easy for him."
The Blue Devils were efficient. The group combined to go 36-for-43 from the line and 11-for-25 from three, a far cry from its 33.5% mark a year ago. Even if the perimeter defense may not have been as strong as what they will see come the regular season, Scheyer’s squad made its open looks with ease.
"Offensively, we just have so much firepower, whether it's Flip, Jerm, Rese, the whole team, our depth, I think it will translate to the bigger games for sure," freshman guard Jared McCain said after the game.
Duke’s four freshmen had their first taste of Cameron Indoor with an opponent on the other bench, and they stepped up to the task. McCain got the nod to start along with senior Jeremy Roach and sophomores Mark Mitchell, Filipowski and Proctor. The Centennial product balled out, putting up 13 points in the first half en route to a 15-point showing. Caleb Foster was the first off the bench, and after an early turnover he settled down, tallying two rebounds, two steals and a point on a free throw before coming off. He hit his stride in the second half with nine points on 3-of-6 shooting from the floor.
"They don't play like normal freshmen," said Scheyer of McCain and Foster.
Sean Stewart entered the contest with a bang, only taking 16 seconds to get on the board after catching a lob from Foster for an easy dunk. He ended with 12 points. TJ Power also got on his first collegiate stat sheet, grabbing a McCain miss in the first half. He broke through in the second half, making his first 3-point attempt of his young career. He had three rebounds and a steal by the game’s end.
Duke’s bench was active, with sophomore Jaden Schutt putting up six points in his 12 minutes. Junior Jaylen Blakes had two assists and a steal, proving his defensive worth once again. Senior Spencer Hubbard made an appearance as well as graduate transfer Neal Begovich.
UNC Pembroke fouled early and often, building on the two it committed on the opening possession, reaching the seven needed for single bonus with just less than 14 minutes to play in the first half. Duke made the most of its trips to the line throughout the game, sinking a whopping 36 of its 43 attempts.
The lopsided score was largely in part to Duke’s extra possessions — the Braves turned the ball over 22 times, 12 of which were the product of Blue Devil steals. Eight players tallied at least one takeaway, putting in the work on both sides of the court.
Duke opens its regular season Monday against Dartmouth at 9 p.m.
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Rachael Kaplan is a Trinity junior and sports managing editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.