PHILADELPHIA (AP)—Duke gained the milestone and momentum it wanted heading into ACC play.
Taylor King scored 15 points to lead No. 9 Duke past Temple 74-64 on Wednesday night and help Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski earn his 787th victory and move into sixth place on the career wins list.
Krzyzewski, who started at Army and is the third winningest active coach, improved his career record to 787-262 and broke a tie with Lefty Driesell. Next is San Francisco’s Eddie Sutton with 798 career wins.
“I’ve been lucky to have coached great players and win games at two great schools,” Krzyzewski said.
DeMarcus Nelson and Greg Paulus each scored 13 points and helped the Blue Devils (12-1) beat Temple for the eighth straight time.
The Blue Devils appeared on their way to another easy non-conference victory until a surprising 8-minute scoreless drought in the second half that sliced a 19-point lead down to eight.
Kyle Singler snapped the skid with two free throws and Gerald Henderson, a Philly high school standout, followed with a dunk to break Duke out of its funk and it cruised from there.
The Blue Devils open the Atlantic Coast Conference schedule against Virginia on Sunday.
“We’re getting there,” Paulus said. “We just need to play off each other more.”
Dionte Christmas sparked Temple’s rally with three 3-pointers and led the Owls (6-7) with 23 points. Mark Tyndale scored 20 for the Owls, denied their first win against a non-conference top 10 team in more than five years.
“They’re a team of runs and they did a good job playing defense,” Christmas said.
Nelson hit a 3 and King added two more early in the second half to give Duke some breathing room. The Blue Devils needed it, too, because Christmas started his hot streak with two 3s sandwiched between Duke’s long-range shots to make it 53-34.
Then the Blue Devils simply went cold, perhaps wishing they had a boost from center Brian Zoubek. Zoubek’s out indefinitely after breaking his foot during practice on Monday. Zoubek averaged only 4.3 points but leads the team with a 59.5 field goal percentage.
“I’d like to be healthier going into the ACC,” Krzyzewski said. “They’re a real together group. We have to shoot the ball, play collective defense and the big guys that we have, have to get healthy.”
King’s 3 were the last points for Duke for exactly 8 minutes and that was the window Christmas needed to take over and give the Owls some hope in front of 18,030 fans at the Wachovia Center, home of the NBA’s 76ers.
“When you play a team with guys like Christmas and Tyndale and they have the freedom to do whatever they want, you want to make sure they take tough shots,” Nelson said. “Eventually, they’re going to hit some shots.”
Christmas, who leads the Owls at 20.9 points, hit another 3 and went 8-for-9 from the free-throw line. He scored all the points in an 11-0 run that cut the gap to 53-44.
Once the Blue Devils broke the scoreless streak, they did just enough to slowly build on their lead. Jon Scheyer hit a 3 for a 64-59 lead and the Owls could never get any serious offensive production from anyone other than Christmas and Tyndale.
“We got ourselves in trouble in the first half,” Temple coach Fran Dunphy said. “We’ve got to pay more attention to detail. We gave up some opportunities.”
The Owls trailed 18-16 until they unraveled after a slew of poor shots and turnovers. Duke took control from there, making four layups, a 3-pointer and a free throw during a 12-0 spurt and took a 39-23 lead into halftime.
“We feel like we have the talent to really open games up and put pressure on teams,” Henderson said.