DURHAM, N.C. (AP)—Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is tired of the questions about his team’s offensive problems.
With only one upperclassman and numerous injuries, Krzyzewski thinks his team is doing just fine.
Josh McRoberts scored 11 of his 15 points in the second half and grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds as the fifth-ranked Blue Devils recovered from a sluggish start to beat San Jose State 70-51 on Sunday.
DeMarcus Nelson added 13 points and Greg Paulus battled through a dislocated middle finger to score 12 for the Blue Devils (12-1), who won their eighth straight overall and extended the nation’s longest nonconference home winning streak to 50 games.
“This the most unique season I’ve ever had with a team,” Krzyzewski said. “Our guys are doing a very, very good job. They’re going to show their warts because we’re not this machine that we have been at certain times. We’ve had teams that have won 30 games. Six of the past nine years we’ve been No. 1. People sometimes hold that standard to this group and don’t then understand the growth process and it’s too bad.”
Duke, which came in averaging only 68.5 points, certainly didn’t look like a highly ranked team for most of the game against the Spartans (1-11), who lost their 12th straight against ranked teams.
The Blue Devils went almost eight minutes without a field goal in San Jose State’s 11-0 run that bridged both halves and got the Spartans within 36-33.
Krzyzewski thinks having Paulus sit out three days of practice with his injury and the long layoff following their win over Gonzaga on Dec. 21 were key factors.
“The two people who handle it the most are Greg and Josh,” Krzyzewski said. “You’d like to have both of them together from day one, and we’d be further along offensively if they were. That’s just not the case. You have to learn while we’re playing games.”
The two eventually did get going. The 6-foot-10 McRoberts ignited a 24-7 run by hitting only the seventh 3-pointer of his career. Paulus added two 3s during the spurt and Nelson’s dunk with just over seven minutes left made it 61-40.
“We started playing together better,” McRoberts said. “I think we started sharing the ball. We turned the ball over 10 times in the first half and only once in the second half. That’s a big thing for us.”
Carlton Spencer scored 11 points for the Spartans, but twice had to leave the game with cramps in both legs during Duke’s decisive run. It was Carlton’s second game of the season after being academically ineligible in the first semester.
No other player scored in double figures for San Jose State, which shot 33 percent and struggled to defend McRoberts in the paint as it fell to 0-8 on the road.
“We just didn’t have answer for him physically,” Spartans coach George Nessman said. “He was just too much for us. They basically handed the ball to him on every possession of the second half, and he delivered.”
The Blue Devils took a 34-18 lead on Nelson’s two free throws with 6:14 left, Duke was held scoreless the rest of the first half.
The Blue Devils missed uncontested shots, free throws and layups and committed three turnovers during the drought, allowing the San Jose State to get within 34-26 on Devonte Thomas’ jumper with just over a minute left.
But Duke recovered in its second-to-last tuneup before Saturday’s Atlantic Coast Conference opener against Virginia Tech. The Blue Devils host Temple on Tuesday.
“Starting on Saturday the world changes when you get into conference,” Krzyzewski said.
It was a rough 24 hours for the Spartans, who are on a 6,460-mile, three-game trip that includes visits to Western Athletic Conference foes Louisiana Tech and New Mexico State. Their luggage didn’t arrive with them to Durham on Saturday and they weren’t able to practice. Their sneakers and uniforms finally arrived late Saturday night. They then were hampered when Spencer missed key stretches in the second half.
“That’s where we went down,” Spencer said. “We didn’t get any buckets to go down for us.”
Duke freshman Lance Thomas missed the game after spraining an ankle last week in practice. Krzyzewski said he’ll likely also sit out Tuesday’s game.