DURHAM, N.C. - Mike Krzyzewski told his No. 7 Duke team to pick up the pace. That wound up making everyone in the Blue Devils’ backcourt look pretty good.
Seth Curry scored a season-high 22 points and Austin Rivers added 20 in Duke’s 110-70 rout of Western Michigan on Friday night.
Quinn Cook had 16 points and eight assists, while Tyler Thornton added 12 points on four 3-pointers to help the Blue Devils (11-1) win their fourth straight.
“We changed our offense a little bit to go push up the floor a little bit more, and play at a faster pace,” Curry said. “And it showed.”
The Blue Devils shot 54 percent and hit a season-high 14 3-pointers to complement their 50-28 rebounding advantage.
“We hit a lot of 3s, but I thought they were good 3s,” Krzyzewski said.
Duke used a huge early run and a knack for getting to the free-throw line to take a 30-point lead during a 63-point first half—its highest-scoring half since hitting for 66 in the second half last year against Colgate—and went on to reach triple digits for the first time this season.
Matt Stainbrook had 18 points to lead the Broncos (5-8). They had their four-game winning streak snapped in decisive fashion and were beaten by an Atlantic Coast Conference team for the first time in program history.
“It’s just kind of like going into a heavyweight bout—you may get in a punch or two in the early rounds, but as the fight wears on, they just keep wearing you out with those body shots,” Western Michigan coach Steve Hawkins said.
Miles Plumlee had a career-high 15 rebounds and Josh Hairston scored 13 points for the Blue Devils, who faced little resistance in extending a few impressive streaks at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
They won their 42nd in a row at home—only the 46-game winning streak from 1997-2000 was longer at the venerable arena—and claimed its 92nd straight victory at Cameron against non-ACC teams.
Curry—whose nagging ankle injury appears to have healed—wound up having one of his best days in a Duke uniform, matching the 22 points he scored in last year’s home victory over North Carolina. He finished shy of the career-best 35 points he scored against VMI as a freshman at Liberty three years ago before transferring to Duke.
“It’s hard work paying off,” Curry said. “The last few games, I kind of struggled with my shot, wasn’t as aggressive as I should have been, and coach was telling me to hunt my shot and play more aggressive.”
The Blue Devils were playing for just the second time in nearly three weeks — because of final exams and the holiday break—and first time since a 27-point romp against UNC Greensboro on Dec. 19. The pace picks up in a hurry: They have fewer than 48 hours to prepare for Sunday afternoon’s game against Pennsylvania.
Indeed, that long layoff certainly had no effect on them in this one.
“This shows how focused we were and how focused we are,” Rivers said. “It’s been a long time off. Instead of coming out rusty and getting back into it, we come out from the get-go.”
The Blue Devils took command with an early 32-6 run in which they did some of the things they do best—find ways to get to the line, and lock down on defense.
“Austin did a good job of driving and getting us to the bonus early in the game,” Curry said. “And then guys like me and even Austin, we just try to attack the rim and put us in situations to attack our man, one-on-one, and we got some calls.”
Duke had 16 free throws—making 13 of those—before Western Michigan even attempted its first foul shot, and by that point the Blue Devils had pushed their lead well into the 20s for good. At halftime, the Broncos had five players with three fouls apiece and Duke had taken 26 free throws to Western Michigan’s two.
“What free throws allow you to do is, it allows you to get your defense set,” Hawkins said. “We felt that our shot at trying to keep this thing close with the personnel that we had, we had to make them play in the half court. They’re still very good at it, but if they get out in transition, they’re just superb. … Our inability to get to the free-throw line allowed them to get out and really run.”
Plumlee started the decisive run with a three-point play, Austin scored six points during the burst, Hairston put Duke up 20 with a free throw with 10 1/2 minutes left in the half and freshman Michael Gbinije capped the burst with a 3-pointer from the right wing to make it 32-8 with 8:45 left before the break.
The Blue Devils held the Broncos without a field goal for more than 6 minutes, came away with points on 14 consecutive trips downcourt and eventually went up 30 when Curry’s free throw with 6.5 seconds before halftime pushed it to 63-33.
Demetrius Ward added 16 points and Hayden Hoerdemann finished with 12 for Western Michigan, which entered 6-0 against current ACC teams but was denied in its bid to become the second Mid-American Conference school to beat a Krzyzewski-coached Duke team.