Duke 74, Coastal Carolina 49
By Joedy McCreary
DURHAM ó Duke didn’t have one of its key players and Coastal Carolina was missing one too. The big difference: The Blue Devils had plenty of other weapons to make up for it.
Kyle Singler had 23 points and 11 rebounds, and No. 9 Duke routed the equally short-handed Chanticleers 74-49 on Monday night in the first round of the NIT Season Tip-Off.
Freshman Andre Dawkins had 13 points and Jon Scheyer and Miles Plumlee added 10 apiece for the Blue Devils (2-0), who in the final game of guard Nolan Smith’s two-game suspension held the Chanticleers to three field goals during a 14-minute stretch of the first half.
Facing a Coastal Carolina team that suspended one of its starting forwards, the Blue Devils put themselves up by 25 points with a 24-11 spurt midway through the second half and cruised from there into a second-round matchup with the Elon-Charlotte winner Tuesday night.
“It’s that kind of game where it’s Nov. 16 and they’ve got a guy suspended from their starting lineup, and they’re going to junk it up, which they should,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said, referring to Coastal’s triangle-and-two defense.
“And we’ve got some guys who are out, and you try to figure it out,” he added. “Overall, we figured it out fine.”
Mario Edwards scored 12 to lead the Chanticleers (1-1), who will face the Elon-Charlotte loser in a consolation game. Their coach, Cliff Ellis, spent a decade coaching at Clemson and beat Duke three times from 1987-90, but that didn’t translate onto the court for a Coastal Carolina team seeking its first win against an Atlantic Coast Conference team since 1987.
“I thought we did the things we needed to do to win, and if the ball goes in the hole, I think it could’ve really gotten interesting the last few minutes of the game,” Ellis said. “They knew we were there for about 25 minutes, 28 minutes. After that, it was pretty much their ball game.”
On a night when the Blue Devils once again had a thin bench, Singler was there to keep things rolling. The ACC’s preseason player of the year followed his 20-point performance in the opening win against North Carolina-Greensboro with even bigger numbers, scoring 15 in the first half and finishing 8 of 14 in 36 minutes.
Dawkins, a newcomer with a quick trigger from long range, hit two 3-pointers during the overwhelming second-half spurt. The first made it 50-28 with 11 minutes left and pushed Duke’s lead into the 20s. Scheyer remained turnover-free while playing all but six minutes of the season.
“Jon did a very good job of making sure that the team was in sync,” Singler said. “I tried to follow, and that’s basically it. It was basically on Jon. Jon was our leader out there, and I was just trying to jump on his back and follow ó whether it was my shots in the first half that kind of kept us ahead, it really was Jon that kept us together.”
The Blue Devils extended their NCAA-record nonconference winning streak at Cameron Indoor Stadium to 70, claimed their 30th straight win at home against an unranked team and improved to 19-2 in the preseason NIT, a tournament they have won three times.
Coastal Carolina, which was playing its first game against a top-10 team since a 43-point loss to No. 7 Florida in 2002, fell to 1-28 against the ACC. The Chanticleers were without three first-year players suspended for the game for violating undisclosed team rules ó most notably, South Carolina transfer Chad Gray, who had 17 points against College of Charleston.
Meanwhile, Duke had just eight players in its rotation because of Smith’s suspension for playing in an unsanctioned summer league and 6-foot-10 freshman Mason Plumlee remained out with a broken left wrist. Smith is expected back for the second-round matchup.
“Overall, we’ve done a good job without him,” Krzyzewski said. “What he does when he comes back is, he brings the familiarity that you’ve known for a month.”
Without them, the Blue Devils pushed their lead into double figures to stay by scoring 10 straight points midway through the first half and forcing the Chanticleers into some miserable shooting.
Coastal Carolina reeled off six quick points in the first 2 minutes ó but managed just six more during the following 14. In that stretch, the Chanticleers were held to 3-of-22 shooting while allowing Duke to take a 26-12 lead. Coastal attempted its only two free throws of the half at the 2:20 mark.
“We fought hard,” Ellis said. “Very simply, we didn’t make shots. That’s the bottom line.”