Expectations are so high at Duke this season that the Blue Devils and their Hall of Fame coach expect to improve on a season-opening blowout victory.
The No. 8 Blue Devils try to do that when they host Georgia Southern on Tuesday night as they continue play in the 2K Sports Classic.
Kyle Singler scored 12 of his team-high 19 points in the first half, while Nolan Smith added 15 with Jon Scheyer and Lance Thomas each scoring 12 as Duke rolled to a 80-49 victory over Presbyterian on Monday night.
Though the Blue Devils held the small South Carolina school to 30.2 percent shooting and forced 28 turnovers in winning their ninth consecutive season opener, there wasn’t much satisfaction.
“(It) just wasn’t there. That’s on us,” said Singler, last season’s ACC rookie of the year who had 10 rebounds, but went 5-for-12 from the field. “Our standards weren’t met, and we’ve just got to come back (Tuesday) with a different attitude, a different mind-set. I know we will.”
The 6-foot-8 Singler averaged 13.3 points and 5.8 rebounds and posted four double-doubles last season as a freshman.
Duke can earn a spot in the tournament’s semifinals on Nov. 20 at Madison Square Garden with a victory Tuesday. Though the Blue Devils led by 24 at halftime and shot 47.6 percent for the game, they went 3-for-11 from 3-point range and committed 21 turnovers in winning their 60th straight home game against a non-conference opponent.
While the outcome was fine, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski expects his team to play better as they move on from a second straight early exit in the NCAA tournament.
“It’s almost like we’re trying a little bit too hard on the offensive end at times,” said Krzyzewski, whose team went 28-6 last season, but lost in the second round of the NCAAs to West Virginia after being upset by Virginia Commonwealth in the first round the year before.
“We can play better offensively, and that’s the only way that you get to be really good,” Krzyzewski said. “We want to be really good.”
This contest marks the second time Duke will face Georgia Southern. Gerald Henderson had 13 points and Scheyer added 11 in the then-No. 11 Blue Devils’ 72-48 win over the Eagles on Nov. 13, 2006 at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Trumaine Pearson had 19 points and 11 rebounds to lead Georgia Southern in a 65-63 victory over Houston on Monday. The Eagles held the Cougars to one basket during the final 10 minutes and made three consecutive defensive stops in the last 1 1/2 minutes to win.
“You could really tell our defense was way ahead of our offense at this point in the season,” Georgia Southern coach Jeff Price said.
The Eagles, picked to finish third in the Southern Conference’s South Division, finished 20-12 in 2007-08 and have lost their last five games versus ranked opponents since the start of the 1997-98 season.
This is one of four regional sites for the tournament. Michigan, Southern Illinois and No. 4 UCLA are also hosting regionals.