Freshmen, led by Okafor, pace No. 4 Duke to rout of Presbyterian
All those freshmen at Duke made it look easy to score in their first college game. It helped when everyone kept making those extra passes.
Preseason All-American Jahlil Okafor scored 19 points in his debut, and the fourth-ranked Blue Devils had 30 assists in a 113-44 rout of Presbyterian on Friday night in the opening round of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.
"I felt comfortable from tap to finish," Okafor said. "I didn’t feel uncomfortable at any point."
All four members of a heavily hyped freshman class reached double figures for Duke (1-0): Greyson Allen had 18, and Justise Winslow and Tyus Jones had 15 apiece.
Duke shot 61 percent and hit 16 3-pointers, and its assist total was three shy of the school record — and its most since 1998 — in the third most-lopsided victory in school history.
The huge assist total "means good basketball, and 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."
The freshmen effectively ended this one by halftime. Those four had 30 of Duke’s first 40 points and the Blue Devils led 57-19 at the break.
Quinn Cook — the only scholarship senior on Duke’s roster — had 14 points with four 3s and Rasheed Sulaimon scored 12 points.
Desean Murray had 14 points for the Blue Hose (0-1).
The Blue Devils are counting on one of the nation’s top recruiting classes to replace Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood, who jumped early to the NBA after last season, and help carry them to their 12th Final Four under coach Mike Krzyzewski.
They sure didn’t get much of a test from Presbyterian. Duke built a 20-point lead in fewer than 10 minutes and went up by 30 with 6 minutes before the break.
The freshmen combined to score Duke’s first 12 points and an upperclassman didn’t even attempt a shot until Amile Jefferson missed off the glass roughly 4 minutes in.
Okafor — the third freshman in five years picked to The Associated Press’ preseason All-America team — was clearly the most dominant player on the floor.
His 9-of-10 shooting night included a series of dunks, layups and jumpers — including one jump shot while falling down that pushed Duke’s lead to 38-8 with 6:10 before halftime.
"We’re learning how to play with him," Krzyzewski said.
The prettiest play of the night came midway through the first half, when the ball didn’t touch the floor during a tic-tac-toe sequence: Allen saved a loose ball near the sideline and tossed it to Jones, who then fired to a streaking Jefferson for a breakaway dunk that made it a 25-point game.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
"They’ll be scary in March" — Presbyterian coach Gregg Nibert, on Duke.
Duke: This was Duke’s most lopsided win since beating Harvard by 76 in 1989. The Blue Devils’ 38-point halftime lead was their most one-sided since they led UNC Greensboro by 39 in 2004. Duke won its 110th consecutive game at Cameron Indoor Stadium against nonconference teams.
Presbyterian: The Blue Hose fell to 1-13 against Atlantic Coast Conference opponents with the lone win coming at Wake Forest four years ago. They’re also 1-12 against Top 25 opponents.
Duke hosts Fairfield on Saturday in the second round of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.
Presbyterian plays its home opener Tuesday against Piedmont.