No. 4 Duke comes up aces in 104-40 victory
DURHAM, N.C. — Duke showed progress on defense and in several other areas in its first game following a loss.
Freshman Wendell Carter Jr. scored a season-high 27 points as fourth-ranked Duke returned to its winning ways by blowing out Evansville 104-40 on Wednesday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
“Defense and communication are two of the things we’ve been working on,” Carter said of the emphasis in recent practices. “Just communication and making sure everybody is talking. I think we’re in a good place.”
It was the first game this season in which Duke didn’t hold the No. 1 ranking.
“This showed we can be a great defensive team,” Blue Devils freshman forward Marvin Bagley III said.
Bagley’s 18 points and Grayson Allen’s 16 points also bolstered Duke (12-1), which has won its past two home games by more than 60 points. Gary Trent Jr. provided 13 points.
Duke’s quest to improve on defense turned out well against a cold-shooting Evansville team.
“The fact is we played really hard and played good defense,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said.
Evansville (10-3) shot 30 percent (15-for-50) from the field.
“We’ve got no excuse,” Aces coach Marty Simmons said. “We knew what we were getting ready to play.”
Duke hadn’t played since the Dec. 9 loss at Boston College, but the Blue Devils didn’t appear rusty in an impressive first half when they drained 67.7 percent of their shots. They led 58-18 at halftime.
The Aces allowed an average of 61.9 points in their first dozen games. Duke has eclipsed the 50-point mark in the first half in three of its past four games.
“We just had to sit with that loss,” Allen said of the layoff. “It was really nice to get out there and play somebody else.”
The outcome marked the fourth-largest margin of victory for a Krzyzewski-coached Duke team. The Hall of Fame coach said he was most pleased with the defense and the 32 assists on 39 field goals.
“Good stuff,” Krzyzewski said. “We worked hard during the time we had (off from games). We had some good practices and looked better defensively.”
Early in the second half, Carter had 20 points and Evansville had 18. Carter, who shot 9-for-15 from the field, didn’t play in the final 11 minutes, and the other Duke starters were rested for a large portion of the second half as well.
The Blue Devils were 16-for-26 on 3-point attempts. Carter went 4-for-7 from beyond the arc after entering the game just 3-for-7 this season.
Dainius Chatkevicius paced Evansville, which had a five-game winning streak snapped, with 12 points.
Duke went up 21-9 and stretched it to 37-15 with six minutes left in the half.
“They took us out of everything we wanted to do,” said Simmons, whose team matched its season high by committing 21 turnovers.
Evansville, which entered the game with a nation-best 49.4 percent success rate on 3-point tries, was 5-for-14 (35.7 percent) from long range.
NOTES: Duke played without sophomore F Javin DeLaurier, who was out with a hamstring injury. He has been the team’s most-used reserve this season. ... In its final nonconference home game of the season, Duke increased its winning streak in such contests to 139. ... Evansville entered the game holding a 10-2 record for the third time in four years. ... Evansville fell to 0-6 in games played in North Carolina since becoming a Division I member in 1977. ... This was Duke’s only game during a 20-day span. The Blue Devils are back in action Dec. 30 at home against Florida State in an Atlantic Coast Conference game. ... Evansville will play its fourth game in eight days when it opens Missouri Valley Conference play Saturday against visiting Illinois State.