Stout defense, Dawkins' shooting leads Duke basketball past Elon
Led once again by the shooting hand of Andre Dawkins, the Blue Devils rang in the new year in style. Behind Dawkins' five three-pointers, Duke ran out to a 20-point first half lead and never looked back, routing the Phoenix 86-48 at the Greesnboro Coliseum.
"[Shooting the ball] felt good," Dawkins said. "When the first one goes in, that's when it's like, 'Let's see how far this can go.' But it's easy when you have teammates that are always looking for you, setting good screens for you and things like that. All I've got to do is catch the ball and shoot it."
Although the final score may not indicate it, scoring did not come easily for either team early on, as the two teams combined for six points on 3-of-12 shooting through the first 4:18 of the game.
Coming off a 20-point performance against Eastern Michigan, the redshirt senior ignited the Blue Devil offense once again Tuesday. After Duke's slow start, he brought some life back to the Blue Devils by knocking down four of his five 3-pointers in the first half to break open the scoring.
"Andre's been terrific," Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "You have to remember, he did not play basketball for a whole year. It's not like he was out and practicing. He didn't play basketball for a whole year."
Dawkins' sharp shooting sparked a 22-7 run for Duke (11-2), which never let its lead drop below 15 points for the rest of the contest.
Duke was even more efficient in the second half, knocking down 54.8 percent of its shots. The Blue Devils continued to have the magic touch for the long ball, as they shot 5-of-7 from behind the arc. Duke's bench outscored its starters 45-41 in the game, led by Dawkins' 15 and 11 from sophomore Rasheed Sulaimon.
"[Rasheed and I] bring that boost off the bench," Dawkins said. "Scoring and then we can also provide a punch on defense as well. With Rasheed, he can get to the bucket with the best of them."
With Dawkins lighting it up from long distance, freshman forward Jabari Parker adjusted his game to be a more physical force in the paint. He struggled from the field, scoring 12 points on 5-of-13 shooting, but Parker was all over the glass, pulling down 10 rebounds to register another double-double.
In the past two games, Dawkins has shot 11-for-17 from behind the arc. His ability to knock down the long ball has opened things up in the lane for the Blue Devils as well as allowed Duke to pull down more offensive boards by spreading the opposition's big men.
"With me, teams really have to focus on me and take me off the three-point line so it opens up driving lanes for everyone else," Dawkins said. "If we can continue to do that, we'll be pretty good."
In the four games in which Dawkins has hit four or more 3-pointers, Duke has averaged 14 offensive rebounds—the Blue Devils averaged 8.6 in their other nine games.
The Blue Devils also benefitted from their stingy defense, as they scored 25 points off 21 Phoenix turnovers.
Elon (8-7) struggled to find an answer for Duke's defense throughout the game. The Phoenix shot 30.4 percent from the field in the first half, including 20 percent from long range—down from their normal 42.5 percent.
"Their shooters didn't get good looks," Krzyzewski said. "Our pressure on the ball made it harder for them to get the pass because the ball handler has to be concerned about the pressure, so it's not as fluid. We just played really good defense today."
The Phoenix's scoring struggles continued in the second half, as they converted only 28.7 percent of their shots and did not break the 40-point mark until 4:28 left in the game.
The Blue Devils closed out the year with five-game winning streak. Duke will resume play Jan. 4th when they travel to South Bend, Ind., to take on Notre Dame in its first ACC contest of the year.