Jahlil Okafor's 20-20 night helps No. 2 Duke down Elon

Jahlil Okafor's 20-20 night helps No. 2 Duke down Elon

Published Dec. 15, 2014 9:58 p.m. ET


Jahlil Okafor's best performance came on a night No. 2 Duke was at its worst.

Okafor had a season-high 25 points and set a school freshman record with 20 rebounds in the Blue Devils' 75-62 victory over Elon on Monday night.

Amile Jefferson added 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting and Justise Winslow had 12 points for Duke (9-0).


Okafor had Duke's first 20-rebound game since Elton Brand in 1998 but Mike Krzyzewski said his big numbers didn't make this performance any more palatable from a team playing its first game in 12 days.

''It's like sweeping dirt under the rug,'' Krzyzewski said. ''The dirt's still there. Now he's a big rug. But you're still sweeping dirt under there.''

The Blue Devils never trailed and led by 20. But they also finished with a season-worst 17 turnovers, made just 14 of 27 free throws and were just 3 of 16 from 3-point range.

''This is the worst we've felt all year after a win,'' Okafor said.

Luke Eddy finished with 16 points to lead Elon (5-5), which shot 42 percent to keep the final margin respectable.

The Phoenix -- who shoot 37 percent from 3-point range -- made just five 3s. But three of them came in a span of about 50 seconds early in the second half to make things momentarily tense.

Collin Luther hit from long range with just under 17 minutes left to make it 44-33.

Okafor followed by banking in a jumper to start the 11-2 run that restored Duke's comfortable lead. Winslow's 3 with 13 1/2 minutes left put the Blue Devils up 55-35.

Elon cut it to 12 before Jefferson hit layups 20 seconds apart and Rasheed Sulaimon followed with a jumper to put Duke up 63-45 with 8 1/2 minutes remaining. Sulaimon finished with 11 points.

Playing on his 19th birthday, Okafor broke the freshman rebounding record of 17 set in 1977 by Mike Gminski and matched twice. This was the second double-double of his short Duke career -- and he took care of this one by halftime with 10 points and 11 rebounds at the break.

''We didn't know whether to double (Okafor) right away, double on the dribble, play one-on-one,'' Elon coach Matt Matheny said. ''He's a very, very difficult matchup.''


Before Okafor's big night, only three Duke freshmen had grabbed 17 rebounds in a game, and Shelden Williams in 2003 was the last to do it. No Duke player under coach Mike Krzyzewski had more rebounds in a game than Miles Plumlee (22) in 2012 but that mark was in serious jeopardy until the final horn.


Okafor was a one-man show for much of the night - and the best representation of that came early in the second half. He stole the ball from Tanner Samson near Elon's foul line, dribbled downcourt and finished the play with an up-and-around layup through contact from Jack Anton.


''Human nature beat the hell out of us'' - Krzyzewski, discussing his team that had been off for exams since its 10-point win at No. 2 Wisconsin on Dec. 3.


Duke: Duke and No. 1 Kentucky are the only remaining unbeatens who have won every game by double figures.

Elon: Two men on the Phoenix bench were no strangers to Cameron Indoor Stadium: assistant Jack Wooten and director of operations J.B. Tanner were on the 2008-09 North Carolina team that beat Duke here and went on to win the Tar Heels' last national title.