Duke’s fabulous freshmen put on quite the show in their first performance as the nation’s No. 1-ranked team.
The Blue Devils overwhelmed Eastern Michigan, carving up the Eagles zone with enough dunks and layups in the first half to fill a highlight reel on the way to a 84-46 basketball win Wednesday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Freshman Zion Williamson scored 21 points and fellow first-year player R.J. Barrett added 20 to lead Duke (3-0).
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The News & Observer
Duke started the season at No. 4 in the initial Associated Press Top 25 poll. After lopsided wins over No. 2 Kentucky and Army, the Blue Devils moved to No. 1 on Monday.
Eastern Michigan (3-1), a veteran team that won 22 games last season, had the unfortunate draw of being the first team Duke played with its shiny new top ranking.
Though playing a zone defense believed capable of negating some of Duke’s edge in athleticism, the Eagles succumbed to a quick knockout.
After Eastern Michigan scored the game’s first basket, Duke scored 21 of the game’s next 22 points to lead 21-3. The Blue Devils have five dunks during that stretch as they either converted baskets in transition or lobbed passes over top of the Eagles 2-3 zone defense.
While going seven minutes and 23 seconds without a field goal, the Eagles missed 10 consecutive shots and turned the ball over seven times as the Blue Devils showed aggressiveness and attitude on defense as well.
Eastern Michigan called the game’s first timeout with 16:11 to play. It did little to stifle Duke’s run.
The Blue Devils scored on their next three possessions -- all dunks. Williamson had the first in transition after a Tre Jones steal. The next two came on lob passes. Williamson lofted a pass that Barrett slammed in, then Barrett returned the favor resulting in a thunderous Williamson dunk.
The highlight of the first half, though, came at the 10:31 mark. With Duke leading 26-7, Duke’s Cam Reddish stole the ball from Eastern Michigan’s Elijah Minnie.
Williamson sprinted down court to start a Duke fast break as Reddish dribbled past half court. He floated a pass toward the basket that appeared to be heading out of bounds for a turnover.
But Williamson launched himself toward the basket, grabbing the ball with two hands as the rim was even with his armpits and slamming home two more Duke points.
That was one of eight dunks the Blue Devils produced in the first half to go along with their eight layups.
Duke’s lead surpassed the 30-point mark at the 4:44 mark when Williamson sliced down the lane for a layup and a 40-9 Duke advantage.
The Blue Devils built a 48-13 lead. Barrett and Williamson scored 12 each to nearly equal the Eagles’ output.
The 6-7, 285-pound Williamson finished the night making 10 of 12 shots while also grabbing a team-best nine rebounds. Barrett handed out six assists to go with his 8 of 21 shooting night. Freshman point guard Tre Jones struggled from the field, making just 1 of 7 shots. But he led Duke with eight assists.
Eastern Michigan made 31 percent of its shots and turned the ball over 20 times. Duke had 14 steals and 11 blocked shots.