Duke has never lost a game in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
The No. 4 Blue Devils again put that perfect record on the line in their first true road game of the season against No. 9 Purdue on Tuesday night.
Duke (7-0) and Boston College are the only teams yet to lose in the event that celebrates its 10th year and has been dominated by the ACC. The Blue Devils rolled to an 82-58 home win over then-No. 20 Wisconsin last season and plays on the road in the event for the first time since a 75-67 win at then-No. 17 Indiana in 2005.
The Blue Devils are 2-0 in true ACC/Big Ten Challenge road games and will meet a ranked opponent for the first time this season.
“You’ve got to be able to win somewhere away from Cameron (Indoor Stadium),” Duke guard Nolan Smith said.
While the Blue Devils are averaging 83.7 points and cruised to the 2K Sports Classic championship over Michigan last month, they should be in for a major test against Purdue (5-1), which lost 87-82 in overtime to then-No. 11 Oklahoma in the NIT Season Tip-Off finals Friday.
This will be Duke’s second trip to West Lafayette, Ind., following an 81-69 loss to the Boilermakers on March 20, 1981. Purdue, 4-0 all-time versus the Blue Devils, beat then-No. 2 Duke 78-68 in the finals of the 2003 Great Alaska Shootout in the teams’ most recent contest. Purdue is 0-8 versus Top 5 teams since that victory.
Duke had 11 players score in a 95-72 rout of Duquesne on Friday. Reserve Lance Thomas scored a career-high 21 points, while Kyle Singler added 17 and six rebounds for the Blue Devils, who shot 54.7 percent to top the 50 percent mark for the first time this season.
“We got that huge lead (and) it was a result of Duke scoring, not a certain player scoring,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “That’s when it’s always the best, when you don’t even know who scored.”
While Singler averages a team-leading 16.7 points and 6.9 rebounds per contest, the 6-foot-8 Thomas highlights a talented bench that includes former starting point guard Greg Paulus.
“I feel like (that performance) was a little long overdue,” said the 6-foot-8 Thomas, who is averaging 9.1 points and 4.3 rebounds. “On any given night, any of our guys can actually have a game like that. We have such a balanced team, such a deep team, and it says a lot about our team that we can do that.”
The Blue Devils’ overall depth could be a challenge for a deep Purdue squad to handle, but playing at home should provide some advantage. The Boilermakers have won 13 in a row at Mackey Arena.
The Boilermakers are 2-5 in the Challenge with both victories coming at home against Virginia in 2006 and Clemson in 2003. Now, Purdue tries to bounce back from its first loss of the season.
E’Twaun Moore scored 22 points, Nemanja Calasan added 20 and eight rebounds and Robbie Hummel had 10 with nine boards against Oklahoma for Purdue, which led by four early in overtime but was outscored 11-2 to close the game.
“This stinks,” said Boilermakers coach Matt Painter, whose team shot 47.8 percent, but committed a season-high 19 turnovers and watched as Oklahoma attempted 46 free throws to his team’s five. “We felt we had the game and it slipped out of our hands.”
While Hummel, the preseason Big Ten player of the year, is averaging 14.2 points, fellow sophomore Moore is off to a strong start—averaging 16.7 points on 38-of-76 shooting.