DURHAM, N.C. – The Princeton offense was no match for top-ranked Duke's up-tempo defense.
Nolan Smith scored 22 points and the Blue Devils forced 27 turnovers in a season-opening 97-60 rout of the Tigers on Sunday in the first round of the CBE Classic.
Kyrie Irving, the first freshman to start a season as Duke's point guard since Jason Williams in 1999, had 17 points. Kyle Singler added 16 and helped the Blue Devils shoot 55 percent and hit 14 3-pointers.
Opening a season as the top-ranked team for the seventh time, Duke never trailed and broke it open by outscoring the Tigers 24-11 during the first 8 minutes of the second half. The reigning national champions also did it with defense, turning all those turnovers into 36 points.
"We definitely played the defense we wanted to play," Smith said. "Against a team like that, with guys that can really shoot 3s, we played the defense we wanted to play tonight."
Dan Mavraides scored 16 points to lead the Tigers (1-1), who outrebounded the Blue Devils 31-29 but never got closer than 11 points in the second half and fell to 1-18 in the series. The schools met in the first game played at Cameron Indoor Stadium, a 36-27 victory by Duke in 1940.
Princeton hadn't allowed that many points since a 103-76 loss to North Carolina on Dec. 31, 1968, and hadn't turned the ball over more often than that since it had 29 giveaways against Maryland in 1998.
"We threw the ball away a little bit too much," Tigers coach Sydney Johnson said. "When you give a great team like this extra opportunities ... they shot the lights out."
Mike Krzyzewski moved four victories shy of 800 at Duke and improved to 30-1 in home openers at the school. The Blue Devils pushed their decade-long nonconference winning streak at Cameron to 78 games and won their 43rd straight home game against unranked opponents. Fittingly, the holder of another impressive streak was in the crowd — Baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr.
This one initially figured to provide an interesting contrast between the Blue Devils' newly installed, high-energy defense and the patient, backdoor-cutting offense that has been the Tigers' signature. But Duke's pressure routinely frustrated Princeton, preventing the Tigers from working the ball to their center and created 17 turnovers in the first half. Despite that, the Blue Devils led just 34-28 in the final 1½ minutes before the break.
They reeled off the final eight points of the half on 3-pointers roughly 20 seconds apart from Smith and Singler, and that pushed the lead into double figures to stay.
"We had too much energy on the offensive end in the first half. We just wanted it so badly that I think we screwed up about five fast breaks," Krzyzewski said. "We didn't attack the zone right because ... I don't know. We were a little bit whacked out with all the energy. In the second half, we combined energy and poise."
And that led to the big run. Mason Plumlee started it with a layup 15 seconds into the half, and Irving scored eight points during the burst. His free throw with 15:14 left made it a 20-point game for the first time, and his 3-pointer with about 12 minutes to play pushed it to 66-39. From there, the Blue Devils' superior depth continued to wear down the Tigers.
"They like to play their two guards 40 minutes, if possible, (so) we just tried to put the pressure on them, make them work on the defensive end and on the offensive end," said Liberty transfer Seth Curry, who scored 14 points in his Duke debut.
Andre Dawkins added 11 points for the Blue Devils, who hit 20 of 30 shots in the second half.
Ian Hummer added 14 points for Princeton, which was playing its first game against a reigning national champion since the Tigers' memorable upset of UCLA in the 1996 NCAA tournament. Johnson was a guard on that team.
"I don't know how many teams are going to be able to play with" Duke, Johnson said. "There might be 10 teams in the country that can handle all the things that they throw at you. So, good luck to those guys, because Duke's pretty good."