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Duke Beats Army, But It Took Some Effort

Duke basketball downed Army Sunday, but this is not your normal Army team.

Nov 30, 2014; Durham, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils center Jahlil Okafor (15) blocks the shot of Army Black Knights guard Kyle Wilson (21) in their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium
Nov 30, 2014; Durham, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils center Jahlil Okafor (15) blocks the shot of Army Black Knights guard Kyle Wilson (21) in their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium
Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

Duke ran its record to 7-0 and handed Army its first defeat 93-73 Sunday afternoon.

Army and undefeated basketball aren’t the first words one associates. Army was what you’d expect, disciplined, poised and competitive. "Grit and camaraderie" Mike Krzyzewski called it.

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But they also can play. They run, press, force tempo and find the open man.

Krzyzewski called Army an NCCA-caliber team and it didn’t seem like coachspeak. "This was a really good basketball game, two really good teams playing hard. I think Army could play anybody we’ve played and have a chance to beat them. I think they’re that good."

It was 40 minutes of up-tempo hoops. Army lead once, at 5-4 and Duke didn’t take the lead for good until a Matt Jones free throw made it 10-9.

Duke got some separation with a 17-6 run and did that with Justise Winslow on the bench. The precocious freshman picked up two offensive fouls on consecutive possessions and ended the half with four minutes, three fouls, two points and one rebound.

Duke had other answers, including an unusually aggressive Tyus Jones. Jones had scored eight points combined in Duke’s last three games and Krzyzewski said Jones has to look for his shots.

"I just felt comfortable out there today, taking what the defense gave me,: Jones said. "I got a couple of buckets early and then just tried to settle us into the offense."

Mission accomplished. Jones scored 13 points in the first half, including Duke’s only 3-pointer (in eight attempts).

The half ended with Duke up 41-28. Army’s top player, Kyle Wilson had 17 of those 28 points.

Matt Jones got a a 3-point play early in the second half and Duke was up 44-30. But Army clawed back. Krzyzewski said Army took advantage of every Duke lapse. The lead shrunk to 44-35, with 17:49 left.

Duke rebuilt the lead on good, old-fashioned hard work. Army coach Zach Spiker said "The game came down to a handful of plays. There were a couple of 50/50 plays that they outhustled us for."

The first came when Amile Jefferson scored inside and drew a foul. He missed the foul shot but Jahlil Okafor grabbed the miss. Duke restarted and Okafor finished the four-point possession with a lay-up.

Jefferson rebounded a Wilson miss and drew another foul at the other end.

Jefferson made the first end of the bonus, missed the second but somehow dug out the loose ball, which led to an Okafor dunk.

The flurry on the offensive boards pushed the lead back to 51-35.

"It’s about being aggressive, giving our team second chances," Jefferson said. "For us, it was about maching their intensity, corralling their guards, slowing them down."

Army refused to go away, cutting the lead to 11 at 58-47. Krzyzewski credited Army point guard Dylan Cox. "When they got down, he just motored it down our throats about three times."

But Duke largely shut down Wilson after intermission, protected the ball and controlled the glass. The lead hit 20, then 25 as Duke leveraged its talent differential into a comfortable, if deceptive, final margin.

Tyus Jones ended with 16 points, 10 assists and nary a single turnover. For the season, Jones has 42 assists and only seven turnovers.

Okafor had 21 points and eight rebounds, while Jefferson grabbed 12 rebounds, five on the offensive boards. Jefferson leads Duke with 62 rebounds, an average of almost nine per game.

Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon added 13 points each, a season high for Sulaimon. Duke held Wilson to two second-half points, outrebounded Army 43-25 and committed only 10 turnovers.

Winslow ended with seven points in only 12 minutes.

Wisconsin is next. Krzyzewski praised his team for not getting ahead of themselves and overlooking Army.


Marshall Plumlee equaled his career-high with eight points, while adding five rebounds. Plumlee made both of his field-goal attempts and went 4-for-4 from the line. He’s 10-10 from the line this season.

Duke made a season-low four 3-pointers, out of 19 attempts. No Blue Devil made more than one shot from beyond the arc.

Duke has scored 90 or more points four times his season and is averaging 90.4 points per game. Army’s 73 points is the most allowed by Duke this season.

The game’s final two points were scored by Army’s Sean Billerman, whose father Kevin started at point guard for three seasons at Duke in the 1970s. Kevin Billerman is the head coach at Raleigh’s Ravenscroft School, where he coached Ryan Kelly.

Billerman was one of 19 players listed on Army’s roster. Thirteen played.