Duke showed that it is a considerably more dangerous team with Nolan Smith on the floor.
Despite that, the ninth-ranked Blue Devils probably won’t take Radford lightly when the teams meet at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Saturday.
Smith scored a career-high 24 points in his return from a two-game suspension to help Duke (3-0) beat Charlotte 101-59 in the second round of the NIT Season Tip-Off on Thursday night.
“When I’m in the game, the coaches want us to look to push tempo and be aggressive, getting into the paint and making plays for myself and for others,” said Smith, a junior guard who was suspended for playing in an unsanctioned summer league. “That’s what I went out there and did.”
Jon Scheyer scored 20 points and hit four of the team’s 12 3-pointers, while Kyle Singler added 17 points. Singler is averaging 20.0 points while Scheyer is at 16.0, and the duo hit 14 of 30 shots from 3-point range in the first three games.
“Those three guys on the perimeter don’t need a bucket to get them going - they are ready to go, and they’re really good basketball players,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “The three of them, 61 points, that’s a pretty good night.”
Sophomore forward Miles Plumlee recorded his first career double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds as Duke extended its non-conference home win streak to 71.
The Blue Devils won their three contests by an average of 33.6 points and limited opponents to 34.3 percent shooting. A 32nd straight home victory over an unranked opponent, however, might not come as easy.
The Highlanders (2-0) return four starters from last season’s NCAA tournament squad, one of them All-American honorable mention center Artsiom Parakhouski.
The 6-foot-11 senior and Big South preseason player of the year averaged 25.5 points and 15.0 rebounds in home wins over Navy and Division III Lynchburg. Parakhouski averaged 16.2 points and 11.2 rebounds in his first season at Radford.
Senior forward Joey Lynch-Flohr, a preseason all-conference pick, is at 21.0 points and 11.5 rebounds a contest, and Blake Smith averaged 13.5 points in his first two college games.
After facing Radford, Duke heads to New York to defend its NIT Season Tip-Off title, taking on Arizona State in the semifinals Wednesday night.
The Highlanders begin a five-game road stretch that concludes against No. 1 Kansas on Dec. 9.
Duke’s only previous meeting with Radford was a 99-63 victory in the first round of the 1998 NCAA tournament.
The Blue Devils have won 19 straight in November since a loss to Marquette in 2006. They have won 14 in a row over Big South opponents, most recently beating Coastal Carolina 74-49 on Monday night.