Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said prior to the season that his team was big and athletic, and would use that to control the glass and get out in transition.
Duke accomplished that Friday night in its season-opening game against Elon, rolling through the Phoenix 97-68 at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
The game was never close. After just six minutes of play, Duke led 20-3. The Blue Devils’ lead over the Phoenix never got closer than 12 points, and by halftime, they led 45-25. The second half was much of the same.
“We knew defensively we were going to be challenged,” Krzyzewski said after the game. “And that’s the thing I’m most proud of our team. I thought we played really well defensively.”
Duke switched on screens and forced Elon into bad shots. The Phoenix shot 40 percent from the floor and committed 15 turnovers. They actually shot better from behind the 3-point line, at 42 percent.
Duke senior guard Grayson Allen came out aggressive offensively. He scored Duke’s first eight points, going 3 for 3 from the field. He hit five of his first six 3-pointers. Allen finished the game with 22 points, on 8 of 15 shooting.
“I’ve been feeling great all preseason and it felt good to win our first game,” Allen said.
Freshman forward Marvin Bagley III was also aggressive. He scored a game-high 25 points in his first college basketball game. He was 12 for 18 from the floor.
With the game out of reach early, Krzyzewski went deep into his bench. Thirteen players played Friday night. Duke sophomore center Marques Bolden sat out with strep throat. He hadn’t practiced all week.
Krzyzewski said it was severe and Bolden won’t play on Saturday against Utah Valley State.
Friday’s win over Elon gives Krzyzewski his 999th win at Duke. He has a chance to achieve 1,000 against Utah Valley State.
“Now we have to have the maturity to turn it around,” he said of Saturday’s game. “Utah Valley was ahead of Kentucky at halftime. They’re big. They’ll be different, 7-feet, 6-11, three transfers.”
“So they’ll be an older big team. So we’ll get challenged two nights in a row.”