DURHAM, N.C. (AP)—Duke has never been an easy team to play at noisy, hostile Cameron Indoor Stadium. And now it’s the Blue Devils’ young-but-smothering defense that’s making things tough on visitors.
Josh McRoberts and Jon Scheyer had 14 points apiece and the No. 9 Blue Devils held Davidson to 38 points below their scoring average in a 75-47 rout of the Wildcats on Saturday night.
Davidson became the latest of the four visitors to Duke’s famous arena to fall short of the 50-point mark, and its struggles to score made it easy for the Blue Devils to bounce back from their first loss of the season and coax along their inexperienced offense.
“We know our offense isn’t going to be great every night out,” McRoberts said. “We’ve been working hard on it, but defense is something we take a lot of pride in.”
Brian Zoubek had 12 points off the bench and Gerald Henderson added 10 for the Blue Devils (5-1), who lost four days earlier to Marquette in the CBE Classic.
“We were all disappointed coming off the loss, and a lot of guys played not as well as we would have liked” against the Golden Eagles, McRoberts said. “So we wanted to come out and play well tonight.”
Duke shook off a sluggish start, shot 52 percent and kept in control for most of the way. The Blue Devils pushed their lead into double figures for good late in the first half on a runner by Henderson, built a 20-point lead with 10 minutes remaining on Zoubek’s free throw and made it a 30-point game with 4:51 left on a 3-pointer by Marty Pocius.
“We’re trying to win games, get to know our team and personalize our system that will suit this team right now,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “We’re playing hard defensively. We just have to keep doing it.”
The Blue Devils once again were dominant defensively on their home court. Davidson—which entered shooting 40 percent from 3-point range—was just 3-of-19 from beyond the arc.
“We have great big men on defense,” Scheyer said. “We know we won’t have to give too much help to the big guys, so that lets our perimeter focus on the (Davidson) guards a lot, focus on their 3 and make them put it on the floor because we knew we had our big guys behind us.”
Jason Richards had 17 points to lead Davidson (4-3), which lost its 20th straight in the series and hasn’t beaten Duke since 1981. Stephen Curry, who entered leading the Wildcats by averaging 22.5 points, was held scoreless in the first half and finished with five points.
“It was a combination of their ability to destroy screens, and our anxiety about quickly setting screens and quickly trying to use them, instead of trying to be patient,” Davidson coach Bob McKillop said. “That’s a tribute to Duke and their ability to wear you down.”
Neither team looked particularly sharp early on, with the Wildcats and Blue Devils combining for more turnovers (21) and team fouls (22) than field goals (18) in the first half.
Duke held Davidson without a field goal for nearly 8 1/2 minutes, outscored the Wildcats 12-2 during that stretch and took an 18-8 lead on DeMarcus Nelson’s baseline jumper with 7:33 left.
“I think we really wanted to come out and send a message tonight and play really well,” Scheyer said. “So, we put a little pressure on ourselves that was unneeded. Once we calmed down, we started to play and started to do better.”
The Blue Devils then closed the half on a 9-0 run, held Davidson scoreless over the final 3:34 of the half and led 34-18 at the break.
Duke shot 57 percent and held the Wildcats to 23 percent shooting in the opening 20 minutes.
Krzyzewski also said reserve forward Jamal Boykin was out indefinitely with a severe case of mononucleosis, and he was considering sitting him out the rest of the season and applying for a medical redshirt. Boykin averaged 1.3 points in Duke’s first three games but didn’t play in the Air Force and Marquette games.