Justise Winslow led the team in scoring for the second straight game with 17 points to go with six rebounds in the team’s final exhibition game.DURHAM, N.C. – After a rough shooting stretch to start the game, the Duke Blue Devils found their rhythm and cruised to an 87-47 win over Central Missouri. Freshman
“When we’re out there, we just try to stay focused, stay disciplined, and make the simple plays,” said Winslow. “When Jah [Jahlil Okafor] gets the ball, I know he’s going to command a double-team, so I just make the easy play. But it was a lot of fun, that stretch [in the first half], when we got the momentum and got the lead.”
The Blue Devils, ranked No. 4 in the Associated Press Preseason Poll, went 2-of-9 from the floor to start the game before settling in on both ends of the floor. Trailing 13-7 at the 13:24 mark, Duke went on a 17-0 run to take control of the game and extended the run to 33-9 to secure a 40-22 lead into the break. Duke went 10-of-20 from the field over the final 13 minutes of the first half, while limiting the Mules to 3-of-14 shooting over the same period of time.
“Our defense was outstanding [during that run],” said head coach Mike Krzyzewski. “If we were hitting shots it would have been more. That’s the neat thing about that run. A lot of times when you have a run like that, first of all you don’t have runs like that a lot, but when you do it’s usually because you hit a three, get a turnover, hit another three. That wasn’t this type of run, it was over a long period of time. I like that about our team even though we weren’t knocking them down, it didn’t affect our effort on the defensive end.”
Freshman center Jahlil Okafor was right behind Winslow with 15 points of his own, along with nine rebounds and four blocked shots. The tandem combined for 21 points and eight rebounds in the opening 20 minutes of play.
Duke carried its momentum from its strong finish in the first half over to the second period, using a 10-0 run to extend the lead to 50-22. Freshman Tyus Jones stepped up defensively during that stretch, recording three of his game-high five steals. The play of the game also happened during that stretch. With the score at 46-22 with 15 minutes left to play. Okafor swatted a Central Missouri layup attempt off the backboard and found Tyus Jones on the outlet pass. Jones found Winslow trailing and tossed it up for him to slam home.
Senior Quinn Cook and Grayson Allen also provided a spark on the offensive side for the Blue Devils. Cook knocked down 5-of-10 shots for 12 points, while Allen connected on both of his three-point attempts and finished with 10 points on the day.
Duke played well defensively, holding the Mules to just 21-of-56 (.346) shooting from the field. The Blue Devils defense also recorded 11 steals and forced a total of 23 turnovers, leading to 32 points for the home team.
Sean O’Brien led Central Missouri with 12 points, while Rakeem Dickerson added eight points and three assists. Central Missouri won the Division II national championship a year ago, while posting a 30-5 record.
“This is a good game for us because Central Missouri is so well coached,” said Krzyzewski. “We are bigger than they are and more athletic but not any better coached than they are. They really play off of each other well. They have a system and that’s why we have played the Division II national champions every year because you’re always going to get a team that is well coached, they are winners, they believe they can win. So this was a good game for us. I thought our effort was outstanding.”
Duke had played the reigning Division II national champion for six straight seasons.
With both exhibition games in the books, Duke will look ahead to start of the regular season. The Blue Devils will host Presbyterian Friday, Nov. 14 at 6 p.m., for their first official game of the 2014-15 season. Friday’s matchup will be televised on ESPNU.