Duke is opening the 2014-15 season with five games in nine days, but the first two of those contests shouldn’t pose much of a challenge. It’s Game No. 3 that the Blue Devils should be concerned with.
Before fourth-ranked Duke heads to Indianapolis for a marquee matchup with No. 18 Michigan State, it will try to complete a two-game sweep in the opening round of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic when it hosts Fairfield on Saturday night.
Duke started with a 113-44 rout of visiting Presbyterian on Friday, while Fairfield beat Central Connecticut State 71-63 in its opener earlier in the day as part of the Connecticut 6 Classic at Quinnipiac.
Following this matchup, the Blue Devils play the Spartans on Tuesday and then move on to New York for the semifinals of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic with back-to-back games at Barclays Center starting next Friday against Temple.
"A lot of travel, really good competition, so we’ll see who we are after those (nine) days," coach Mike Krzyzewski said.
The Blue Devils were led in the opener by their heavily hyped freshman class of preseason All-American Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones, Justise Winslow and Grayson Allen. Okafor had 19 points, Allen scored 18 and Jones and Winslow added 15 each.
”I felt comfortable from tap to finish,” said Okafor, who shot 9 of 10. ”I didn’t feel uncomfortable at any point.”
Duke shot 60.9 percent, hit 16 3-pointers and had 30 assists – three shy of the school record – in the third-most lopsided victory in school history.
"It’s just a lot of fun to play that way,” said Jones, who had a team-best seven assists. ”When everyone’s into it, we’re making extra passes. It’s a lot of fun but it’s also very hard to play against.”
Fairfield lost its top scorer from a year ago in Maurice Barrow (14.0), but it didn’t miss him Friday. The Stags jumped out to a 35-26 halftime advantage and pulled away with a late 9-0 run.
They were paced by Marcus Gilbert with 21 points, and fellow junior forward Coleman Johnson added 17 off the bench.
"It’s great to start the season with a win," coach Sydney Johnson said. "Playing a top-five program like Duke tomorrow night on their court is not an easy task. It was important for us to get some confidence heading into that game and we accomplished that tonight."
All three previous meetings in this series were also played at Cameron Indoor Stadium, and Duke won each of them by an average of 33.6 points. The Blue Devils were ranked No. 1 in the first matchup in November 1998, No. 3 in January 2003 and No. 2 in the last meeting in January 2004.
Duke has won an NCAA-best 110 straight non-conference home games and 34 in a row overall at Cameron.