The consistent play of freshmen Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow has helped propel Duke to a strong start. If fellow newcomer Tyus Jones can regain his shooting touch, Mike Krzyzewski's squad could be even more potent.
The talented young trio looks to again help the No. 4 Blue Devils as they try to continue their home dominance over non-conference opponents Wednesday versus Furman.
Though senior Quinn Cook is averaging a team-high 17.0 points, the 6-foot-11 Okafor (15.8 points, 8.0 rebounds per game) and the 6-6 Winslow (15.4 and 5.8) have teamed with Amile Jefferson to form a formidable frontcourt presence for the Blue Devils (5-0).
Okafor played well down the stretch to record his first double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds in Saturday's 70-59 victory over Stanford in the championship game of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.
Winslow was just as effective with 14 points, nine boards and four assists.
"Those guys, they go out there, they're like seniors," said Cook, who hit four of Duke's nine 3-pointers and finished with 18 points to earn tournament MVP honors. "The way they play, their maturity."
Jones, who joins Okafor and Winslow in the starting lineup, has shown he can run the point while averaging 5.0 assists, 2.0 steals and only 1.0 turnover. However, he went 1 of 13 from the field with eight points during the two-game event. He was 12 for 18 and averaged 12.7 points in the first three contests.
Krzyzewski lauded Jones for his solid defense, as well as the nine assists, eight rebounds and mere two turnovers he recorded against Temple and Stanford. He also plans to be patient as Jones works through his current rough offensive stretch.
"He'll get there," Krzyzewski said. "We'll get better when he starts shooting the ball the way he can shoot the ball."
Jones could get a better chance to work on his shot this week as Duke faces favorable home matchups with Furman (1-2) and Sunday against Army before visiting second-ranked Wisconsin on Dec. 3.
College of Charleston and UC Davis shot a combined 52.4 percent in Furman's defeats.
That could benefit the Blue Devils, who hope to improve after hitting 39.2 percent of their shots against the Owls and Cardinal. Duke prevailed by holding both opponents to 36.7 percent from the field, including 4 of 26 from 3-point range.
"We're getting there defensively," Krzyzewski said. "To be 5-0 after these eight days is really good, especially because we're playing well defensively. We've been mentally tough, and you don't know that (will happen) until you get into competition."
Looking for a 112th straight non-conference home victory, Duke faces Furman for the first time since a 102-67 win Dec. 14, 1965.
The Paladins' initial road appearance comes while facing their first ranked opponent since a 71-53 loss to No. 19 Central Florida on Dec. 29, 2010.
Guard Stephen Croone, who ranked second in the Southern Conference with an average of 19.4 points last season, had a team-high 15 in Saturday's 58-55 home loss to UC Davis.