After a promising start, Dawkins collided with a Colorado State player and hit the floor hard with 3:13 remaining before halftime. He lay on the court for a minute or so before getting up and heading to the Blue Devils’ locker room.
Dawkins didn’t return to the bench for the rest of the game.
The junior didn’t start for the first time this season, but he gave Duke (8-1) a spark when he entered the game in the first half, hitting a 3-pointer and dunking the ball twice in his first minutes. It was a dramatic change from Dawkins’ previous game, when he didn’t score in 19 minutes in Duke’s 85-63 loss to Ohio State on Nov. 29.
Partially because of that effort, Tyler Thornton started in Dawkins’ place. It was Thornton’s first start of the season.
Mason Plumlee had a strong all-around game, finishing with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
His last points of the first half were emblematic of his diverse contributions. Plumlee stripped the ball from a Colorado State guard before passing the ball to Dawkins. Dawkins then returned the favor and fed Plumlee for an alley-oop that gave Duke a 41-30 lead.
The Blue Devils led by at least 10 points the rest of the game.
With the win over the Rams, the Blue Devils have not lost back-to-back games since February, 2009.
Enjoying its first break in game action this season over the last week – Duke had played eight games over a 19-day stretch before that – the Blue Devils spent a lot time working on their defense.
The results were mixed against CSU. The Rams only shot 40.7 percent, but they also got to the basket with surprising ease at points.
After CSU’s Dorian Green drove from the perimeter to the basket for an easy dunk early in the second half, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski got up from his seat and immediately pointed to Quinn Cook and Josh Hairston on the bench, letting them know he wanted them to go in the game.
When it happened again before the next official break, Krzyzewski called a timeout.
The Blue Devils’ defense didn’t have any glaring breakdowns the rest of the way. Its lead spent most of the second half in the 20-25 point range.
Hairston put an exclamation point on the victory with an emphatic dunk with 9:05 left to give the Blue Devils a 25-point advantage.