DURHAM — South Dakota coach Craig Smith was warned about what would happen if his team came out slow against top-ranked Duke on Saturday.
Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski, a former Duke assistant and player for the Blue Devils, told Smith about the importance of a fast start against Coach K’s squad in Cameron Indoor Stadium.
“Wojo told me over the summer that we’d have to be locked in those first seven minutes or (Duke) can overwhelm you,” Smith said.
In their first home game in nearly two weeks, the Blue Devils did just that en route to a 96-80 win.
Grayson Allen scored 15 of his game-high 25 points in the first eight minutes for Duke (10-0). The senior knocked down 6 of 7 shots with a trio of 3-pointers that had him outscoring the Coyotes (7-3) by two points at the under-12 media timeout.
The Blue Devils continued their first-half blitz to take a commanding 56-30 lead into the break.
“I was really pleased with the first half, obviously,” said Duke coach Mike Krzyzweski, whose squad shot 62 percent in the opening frame and never looked back.
“We came out from that 20-day, 9-game stretch and I thought we played really well. We got a lot out of the afternoon and we beat a good team. … that was a good game for us.”
After winning the PK80 Invitational and a road game at Indiana, the Blue Devils returned home for their 10th game of the young season.
“What I saw was a team that put the nine games behind them,” Krzyzweski said, “and showed up ready to play.”
With exams on the horizon for his squad, the veteran coach has learned a lot through the long stretch of games and little practice time.
“In the last month, we’ve played more than we’ve practiced. It’s crazy,” he said. “But overall, they’ve done a really good job. I’m pleased with my team.
“We’ve won and we’ve played, at times, great. But at other times, young. We’ve gained a lot of experience. I think what we’ve learned is we have two of the exceptional players in America in Marvin (Bagley III) and Grayson. And Trevon (Duval), overall, has done a really good job at the point. Wendell (Carter Jr.), we have to keep him out of foul trouble because it totally impacts his game.”
Bagley III continued his blistering hot start to the season with his eighth double-double, scoring 19 points to go with 12 rebounds. Duval was two assists shy of a double-double, logging 14 points and eight assists.
Sophomore Javin DeLaurier came off the bench to give the Blue Devils a boost, scoring a career-high 13 points in 15 minutes. He also had nine rebounds before fouling out with four minutes to play.
“I thought Javin really gave us a good jolt,” Krzyzweski said.
The Coyotes fought back to outscore Duke, which played its reserves for a majority of the second half, 50-40 over the final 20 minutes. Tyler Hagedorn and Nick Fuller each logged 16 points to pace South Dakota.
The Blue Devils will be back in action on Tuesday at home against St. Francis.
Rodd Baxley can be reached at 910-416-5182. Follow him on Twitter @RoddBaxley.