Bryant may not be as good as Siena. Or maybe Duke got a lot better in 24 hours.
Or both . They aren’t mutually exclusive.
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Either way, Duke sliced and diced the Bulldogs to the tune of 113-75.
Duke wasn’t all that pleased with certain aspects of Friday night’s opening win over Siena. The Blue Devils got together around 10 this morning for a team breakfast and what Mike Krzyzewski called "a tough feedback tape for about an hour. . . . They responded really well."
The session was followed by a team meeting in which the veterans followed up the talking points.
Points of emphasis?
Communication was one. "I didn’t think they talked well last night. Part of that is it’s your first game at Duke. . . . We had a lot of young guys. . . . When you’re young, sometimes your thoughts are just of you. Tonight we were better. We wee consumed with Duke."
Another point was transferring last night’s nervousness into enthusiasm. "I didn’t think they played with enthusiasm l[last night]. We got that little run in the second half where we got some steals and all of a sudden, we felt good and hey that’s a good way to play."
The game was only close for five minutes or so, last tied at 7. Brandon Ingram hit his first two three-pointers after going 1-9 last night. Krzyzewski said Ingram took too many shots last night with a defender in his face and did a better job tonight of letting the game come to him.
Duke built its lead throughout the first half, 25-14, then 46-27, then a 13-3 run to close at 59-32.
Duke shot about as well from outside as a team can shot, 8-11 on 3s, 17-20 from the line. Matt Jones scored 19 points in the first half, breaking his career-high of 17. He barely played in the second half but it was only a precaution, resting his groin issues for a busy week.
Grayson Allen joined Jones and Ingram with 15 first-half points, five first-half assists and the kind of hustle plays on the floor that characterize his high-energy game.
"You have to be able to contribute to the game in more ways than just scoring," Allen said. "For me, when my shots weren’t falling, you’ve got to bust your butt to make plays in other aspects."
Bryant started making some 3s; they went 9 for 15 after intermission, with Hunter Ware going 6-11, 4-6 in the second half. He ended with 24 points.
But Duke more than matched that, from downtown, in transition and off the offensive boards. The second-half margin never dropped below 23 and peaked at 40.
The five freshmen totaled 47 points, 19 rebounds and seven assists.
But Allen says the improvement by the freshmen was more than just stat-stuffing.
"I thought they improved a lot tonight. I thought they were more into the game. They talked more. They played with more enthusiasm. We have to learn from winning. You don’t have to lose to learn."
Ingram agreed. "We were more relaxed before the game. We knew we had to talk more, We got after it defensively and it led to offense. We got a lot of transition buckets and we just made the extra pass tonight."
Allen ended with 28 points and six assists, both career highs. He did miss one of 10 foul shots, leaving him 17-18 for the season.
Ingram finished with 21 points, while Luke Kennard added three steals and four rebounds to his 11 points.
Amile Jefferson had another double-double, with 11 points and 11 rebounds, while Marshall Plumlee had eight of each, along with three blocks.
Duke outrebounded Bryant 43-27--Jefferson had eight offensive rebounds-and had 14 steals, leading to 14 fast-break points.
I don’t often talk about recruiting in this context. But Wendell Carter sat with the Crazies in the second half. A post player from Atlanta, Carter is the top-ranked player in his class and a priority target for Mike Krzyzewski.