DURHAM — A series of games against highly ranked foes tested Duke early this men’s basketball season.
Even though unranked Delaware was Saturday’s opponent, the Blue Devils brought a similar level of intensity.
No. 2 Duke smothered the Blue Hens from the start, running off 15 consecutive first-half points en route to an 88-50 non-conference win at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Coming off Wednesday’s 73-68 win over No. 4 Ohio State, the third win over a top-five team for Duke (8-0) this season, the Blue Devils played Delaware short handed. Senior guard Seth Curry, averaging 15.1 points per game, sat out the game with a left ankle injury he suffered in the second half against Ohio State.
With freshman center Marshall Plumlee still sidelined with a stress fracture in his right foot, Duke’s rotation consisted of eight players.
It didn’t matter.
“The way we played for 40 minutes was different than what you would expect — different in a good way,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said.
Delaware (2-6) made just 24.1 percent of its first-half shots and shot 27.7 percent for the game. The Blue Hens also had nine turnovers in the first half, as Duke led 42-19 at intermission.
“That’s a great sign,” Duke point guard Quinn Cook said. “There’s a tendency for team’s that have a great win against an Ohio State to come back Saturday and let up on Delaware. You can’t do that. They are a great team. We definitely had to come out and throw the first punch.”
Senior center Mason Plumlee had another double-double, his fifth of the season, with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Ryan Kelly also had 18 points, as Duke placed five players in double figures.
“I thought we played terrific,” Krzyzewski said. “Sometimes in these situations, fifth game in 10 days, after that four games in seven days stretch, there’s a chance for a letdown and we didn’t have it.”
Duke shot 52.2 percent and dished out 23 assists on its 35 made field goals. Freshman guard Rasheed Sulaimon, after scoring 17 second-half points to key the comeback win over Ohio State, scored 14 points against Delaware to go with six assists.
Defensively, Duke had eight blocked shots and nine steals. Delaware didn’t break into double-digits in the scoring column until nearly 13 minutes into the game.
“In case you guys didn’t know it, Duke is pretty good,” Delaware coach Monte Ross said.
With the short bench and lopsided score, redshirt freshman forward Alex Murphy received his most extensive playing time of the season. A starter in Duke’s exhibition games, Murphy played 21 minutes. He scored 10 points and had seven rebounds while committing only two turnovers. He also blocked a shot and recorded a steal.
“It felt good to be out there,” Murphy said. “Something like that helps to build confidence. We played well as a team. Guys were very unselfish. Give credit all around there.”
Curry said his ankle injury isn’t severe and shouldn’t cause him to miss Duke’s next game on Dec. 8 against Temple in East Rutherford, N.J. In addition to his sprained ankle, Curry also is dealing with a painful shin condition on his right leg.
Saturday’s game was the first Curry has missed in his Duke career, having played in 78 consecutive games.
Krzyzewski also said he is confident his senior guard will be back for Temple.
“He should be fine for Temple,” Krzyzewski said.
No. 2 Duke 88, Delaware 50
Percentages: FG .277, FT .600. 3-Point Goals: 2-14, .143 (Saddler 1-3, Anderson 1-8, Rogers 0-3). Team Rebounds: 4. Blocked Shots: 1 (Anderson). Turnovers: 15 (Saddler 4, Hagins 4, Rogers 3, King-Davis, Anderson, Brinkley, Baptiste). Steals: 5 (Baptiste 2, Saddler, Anderson, Hagins).
Percentages: FG .522, FT .524. 3-Point Goals: 7-20, .350 (Kelly 2-4, Cook 2-5, Murphy 1-3, Sulaimon 1-4, Thornton 1-4). Team Rebounds: 1. Blocked Shots: 8 (Mas. Plumlee 3, Murphy, Hairston, Cook, Kelly, Zafirovski). Turnovers: 11 (Thornton 3, Sulaimon 2, Mas. Plumlee 2, Murphy 2, Jefferson, Cook). Steals: 9 (Thornton 3, Cook 2, Kelly 2, Mas. Plumlee, Murphy).
A—9,314. Officials—Tim Nestor, Ray Natili, Dwayne Gladden.