DURHAM, N.C. (AP)—Duke has more scorers on its bench than many teams do in their starting lineups.
Two freshman reserves posted big point totals Saturday, with Taylor King scoring 18 and Nolan Smith adding a career-high 17 during the sixth-ranked Blue Devils’ 95-67 rout of Michigan.
“Before the game, (coach Mike Krzyzewski) was like, ‘We’re going to play everybody in the first couple of minutes, so just get ready, play your (tail) off, pretty much,”’ King said. “That’s what they did, and we just brought guys in, put different lineups in … and see what works.”
Gerald Henderson had 12 points and DeMarcus Nelson and non-starter Jon Scheyer both added 10 for the Blue Devils (9-0), who shot 49 percent and built an insurmountable lead by reeling off 14 straight first-half points, a dominating stretch led by King and Smith. For the fourth time in nine games, the Blue Devils’ leading scorer came off the bench—with King doing it three times.
“Without those (reserves), we wouldn’t have the type of success that we’re having,” Nelson said. “On any given moment, we’re going to need somebody to step up.”
Duke opened with nine straight victories for the third time in four years, won its NCAA-best 56th straight nonconference home game and improved to 3-0 against the Big Ten by sending the Wolverines (3-6) to their sixth loss in seven games.
“There’s no secret they have the whole package here, but I think we’ll turn it into a positive,” Michigan coach John Beilein said. “We didn’t play well, we learned a lot and we came home alive.”
DeShawn Sims had 12 points in his seventh straight double-figure scoring game for the Wolverines, who started two freshmen and two sophomores while playing without starting point guard Jerret Smith for academic reasons.
“We’ve got sophomores and juniors out there sometimes … and they’ve all been role players,” Beilein said. “I don’t think one of those guys at Duke has ever been a role player in their life.”
Zack Gibson added 11 points but leading scorer Manny Harris was held to eight—nearly nine fewer than his average of 16.6—for the Wolverines, who were denied their first victory over Duke in almost exactly a decade, dropping their sixth straight in the series.
This intersectional matchup of big-name programs likely wouldn’t have taken place in recent seasons—when the Wolverines were coached by former Duke star Tommy Amaker—because Krzyzewski is reluctant to face his former players.
“I don’t want to beat my son,” Krzyzewski said. “I don’t want my son to beat me.”
That no longer was an issue after Michigan fired Amaker last spring and Beilein replaced him. After Duke took a 22-point second-half lead in this one, the Cameron Crazies serenaded Beilein with chants of “Tommy’s better!”
It was the second lopsided loss at Cameron Indoor Stadium for Beilein, who was a first-year Division I coach at Canisius in 1992 when his team was routed 110-62 by the Grant Hill-led Blue Devils.
His Wolverines met a similar fate this time, once the Blue Devils found their offensive rhythm.
Duke took command midway through the half with its decisive 14-0 run, starting the burst when Scheyer’s 3-pointer from the left corner made it 21-14 and capping it with Smith’s 3 from the top of the key that made it 32-14 with about 4 1/2 minutes left. Smith had nine of Duke’s points during that spurt.
“There were some scrappy exchanges, multiple plays in an exchange down the court, and they resulted in either a good defensive stop for us or a real momentum basket. That broke it open,” Krzyzewski said.
Duke led by 18 at halftime when Nelson hit a 3 from the corner 2 seconds before the buzzer, and Michigan didn’t get much closer than that over the final 20 minutes.
“The second half was an even half for about 10 minutes. Then, it went from being an even half to being down 30,” Beilein said. “The first half, same thing. It was basically, five, six, seven points (down), and then, boom, a spurt, and that’s just where our inexperience comes in. … Our skill level and things like that just break down against a great defensive team.”