DURHAM — Duke captain Mason Plumlee and his teammates said two things repeatedly at preseason media day: the Blue Devils attitude on defense was completely different, and the offense would run through Plumlee.
For the first half, at least, they appeared right about the defense. Plumlee, though, shined throughout.
Duke beat Division-II Winston-Salem State 69-45, as expected. The Rams finished with more turnovers (19) than made field goals. After last weeks game against Western Washington State, Duke placed more emphasis this week on defense, mainly on protecting against drives.
We came out of the gate really well on defense, and we let that translate into offense, Amile Jefferson said.
Winston-Salem state had as many turnovers (13) as points in the first half. Or, to slice it another way, the Blue Devils had as many steals (five) as the Rams had field goals.
Plumlee led Duke with 19 points and 10 rebounds.
With one exception, the takeaways came from Dukes biggest and longest players Plumlee, Ryan Kelly and Alex Murphy giving the Blue Devils a dimension they sorely lacked last season. In the first half, which ended with Duke leading 36-13, Winston-Salem State was held to 16.7 percent shooting from the floor.
Duke subbed heavily throughout, with all nine players who played getting at least 14 minutes. Seth Curry, who hadnt played five-on-five because of right shin pain since Sept. 10, made his first appearance of the season. While his shots didnt fall he was 1 of 9 he said he didnt feel limited in his movements or on defense. The pain will likely linger all season, he said, so his future action depends on how much pain his body can take.
While Curry was part of the constant substitution rotation, it was two other key reserves who came up with some of the most notable stops.
With 5 minutes, 56 seconds remaining in the first half, Josh Hairston forced a five-second violation by Winston-Salem States Torez Young, and a few minutes later, Jefferson blocked a Joe Thompson shot.
Jefferson, visibly excited, encouraged the crowd to make noise. On the ensuing inbounds play, Thompson was called for an offensive foul before the ball came in play.
Hes more enthusiastic than the crowd, coach Mike Krzyzewski said about Jefferson, who finished with 13 points.
Winston-Salem State pulled down 19 rebounds on the offensive glass and 44 total, while Duke had 28 defensive rebounds and 46 total.
That area for improvement falls under the umbrella of completing plays, which Duke needs to do offensively as well. Krzyzewski said the team missed seven or eight shots right around the basket and deemed the fast-break offense horrible.
Duke finished with 10 fast break points and turned the 19 Winston-Salem State turnovers into 29 points.
I just dont think we finished well. In both the games, really, even though we scored over 100 (against Western Washington State), I thought weve left a lot of points on the floor that are makeable, Krzyzewski said.
Keeley 919-829-4556; Twitter @laurakeeley