DURHAM, N.C. (AP)—Jon Scheyer is playing less and producing more.
Duke’s one-time starting shooting guard came off the bench and scored 22 points to lead the 13th-ranked Blue Devils to an 86-61 rout of New Mexico State on Monday night.
Scheyer, who as a freshman started 31 of 32 games and averaged about 34 minutes, is playing about eight fewer minutes per game this season as a reserve on a much deeper Duke team.
This time he was 4-of-6 from 3-point range, threatened his career-high of 26 points and continued to establish himself as one of coach Mike Krzyzewski’s most productive sixth men—even if Coach K still considers him a starter.
“Right away, coming off the bench is a different thing—I’ve never really done it in my life,” Scheyer said. “So my whole mentality coming into a game is different. Usually, I’m getting geared up to go when 20 minutes is on the clock. Now, it’s a couple of minutes in.”
DeMarcus Nelson scored 14 points, Gerald Henderson had 11 and Kyle Singler added 10 for the Blue Devils (2-0), who shot 47 percent, forced 26 turnovers and built a 31-point lead and cruised to their second straight rout of an outmanned nonconference opponent.
Last year’s lowest-scoring team in the Atlantic Coast Conference (70.9 ppg) is deeper this season and is playing at a faster, more frenetic pace, averaging 103.5 points. And after a huge first-half run carried them to their 53rd straight nonconference home victory—the longest such streak in the nation— they must turn their attention to next week’s trip to the Maui Invitational.
“We have a lot of guys who can score, who can make plays,” Nelson said. “We also have that same presence defensively, also. We have more guys that can defend, and guys from last year got better defending, so we’re really starting to develop a really good team, offensively and defensively.”
Justin Hawkins had 16 points and 11 rebounds, Fred Peete had 13 points and Wendell McKines added 10 for the Aggies (0-2), an NCAA tournament team last season under then-coach Reggie Theus and the preseason pick by the media to win the Western Athletic Conference.
But in their second game under coach Marvin Menzies—and first trip to notoriously rowdy Cameron Indoor Stadium—they briefly led in the opening moments and rallied late, but ultimately were no match for a Duke team that hasn’t lost a home nonconference game since February 2000.
“Welcome to Cameron Indoor,” Menzies said. “Obviously, I wish we would have competed better and given Coach K a little bit more of his money’s worth.”
New Mexico State couldn’t get closer than 17 points in the second half, with JayDee Luster’s basket with 5:46 left making it 69-52.
The Blue Devils took command during a 21-2 spurt early in the first half in which they quickly erased their only deficit and forced New Mexico State into a miserable stretch of about 7 1/2 minutes in which they failed to score on 15 of 16 trips down the court and were held to 1-for-11 shooting.
“We just didn’t do the little things that would help us handle the pressure better,” Hawkins said. “We show it in spurts. We come down a possession and we play well, and then we go four, five possessions where we just tank it. We can’t do that, especially when we’re playing good teams like Duke.”
Duke pushed its lead into double figures to stay when Henderson dunked off a pretty feed from Nolan Smith to make it 18-8 with 13 1/2 minutes left, and ended the decisive spurt two minutes later when Greg Paulus’ layup from Scheyer made it 25-8. The Blue Devils led 47-26 at halftime on Nelson’s 3 from the left wing with 48 seconds before the break.
Their largest lead came midway through the second half when Marty Pocius’ steal and basket gave Duke a 31-point lead before the Aggies made the final score slightly more respectable.
“We played really well and got that 61-30 lead, and it just seemed like we stopped and they kept going,” Krzyzewski said.