There are no style points for November wins in college basketball. And that’s a plus for Duke, which won without its A-game 74-54 against Temple.
It was the first off-night for No. 4 Duke (4-0) on the young season, as shots weren’t falling early. As a team, Duke shot 30.8 percent from the field in the first half but still had a 10-point lead. By the end of the game, the Blue Devils’ shooting percentage had improved a bit to 39.1 percent.
The problem wasn’t with the shot selection. They just weren’t falling.
“We knew those were shots we could make, so it was just a little disappointing,” Justise Winslow said. “They weren’t bad shots. When they’re not falling, you’ve just got to keep playing and just continue to think that the next one is going in.”
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Jahlil Okafor, who entered the game shooting 83.3 percent from the field (25-of-30), struggled to finish through contact in the first half.
The big freshman went 3-of-13 from the field in the opening 20 minutes – all those misses did allow him to collect seven offensive rebounds, though. Okafor did lead Duke with eight points, along with Winslow.
The game was effectively over by the 15-minute mark of the second half, when Duke was up by 16 points at 44-28.
While it was more of a struggle on the offensive end, the Blue Devils defense was much tighter than it had been Tuesday against Michigan State. Temple (2-1) didn’t fare much better than the Blue Devils from the field, shooting 34.5 percent in the opening half and 37.3 percent for the game.
“We played without fouling,” said head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Temple attempted just six free throws). “We kept guys in front of us pretty good the whole game, and we switched well. And then our big guys protected the bucket pretty well, so they didn’t have straight line drives.”
Krzyzewski mixed up his lineups early and often, subbing five new players in at a time in addition to mixing the squads. Eight of Duke’s 10 scholarship players played at least six minutes in the opening 20 – Grayson Allen logged four and Semi Ojeleye three to round out the rotation. Other than Allen and Ojeleye, every one logged at least 11 minutes for the game.
Playing through contact is a new challenge for Okafor and any post player making the jump from high school to college. There aren’t a plethora of 6-foot-11 post players in high school to match up against, and Okafor had to contend with his height equal, Devontae Watson – though Okafor does have 55 pounds on him.
The Blue Devils did shoot better in the second half (13-for-25, 52 percent), and Okafor started off 4-of-5 from the floor, finishing with 16 points. For the second game in a row, Quinn Cook led the Blue Devils in scoring, contributing 17 on 6-of-12 shooting. Winslow (15 points) scored in double figures as well.
The win sets Duke up for a match against Johnny Dawkins and the Stanford Cardinal Saturday at 9:30 p.m. in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic final—the Blue Devils’ fifth game in the first eight days of the season. It will be the first time Dawkins faces his alma mater.