DURHAM - In 48 amazing seconds early in the second half of a 110-58 hammering of Colgate on Friday night, Duke showed exactly why it’s the top-ranked team in the nation.
Nolan Smith lofted an alley-oop pass that Miles Plumlee caught and dunked – backward – all in one motion. After a Kyle Singler steal, freshman point guard Kyrie Irving found Smith for a 3-pointer.
Then Plumlee stole the ball, and it quickly moved forward to Andre Dawkins in front of the Duke bench. With his picture-perfect form, Dawkins drained another 3-pointer.
Cameron Indoor Stadium erupted. Colgate coach Emmett Davis called his second timeout in 160 seconds. Eight points in 48 seconds have a way of demoralizing an opponent.
And let’s face it, Colgate (0-3) wasn’t expected to provide much of a challenge to Duke after opening with losses to St. Francis (Pa.) and Binghamton. That essentially proved to be true, although the Red Raiders showed some signs of life.
Their zone defense held Duke to 38.9 percent from the field in the first half, including a 2-for-10 showing by Singler. Shooting a respectable 3-for-8 from 3-point range before halftime, Colgate trailed 44-26 at the half.
Then the second half came. Singler opened with a 3-pointer and a score on an inbounds pass from Irving in the first 37 seconds.
Soon afterward, Smith’s pass to Plumlee started the 48-second run that erased any doubts about whether Colgate would be able to avoid a blowout.
Singler scored 18 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead Duke in both categories. Smith and Dawkins both scored 16 points, and Irving added 13. Smith and Irving both handed out nine assists.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski has said Duke (3-0) won’t be perfect this season, and the Blue Devils weren’t. Center Mason Plumlee fouled out with 10:03 remaining in the game with a reach-in 40 feet from the basket.
Despite vastly superior size, the Blue Devils outrebounded Colgate just 23-22 in the first half. But these were small points.
Thus far this season, Duke has won by 34 or more points in each of its three games. And the Blue Devils have gotten stronger each game in the second half, using their superior depth to wear out opponents.
Duke is using an eight-man regular rotation and sprinkling in small doses of freshmen Josh Hairston and Tyler Thornton. It remains to be seen what Duke will do next week when the competition gets stronger.
The Blue Devils will travel to Kansas City to meet Marquette on Monday and either No. 3 Kansas State or No. 11 Gonzaga on Tuesday. Krzyzewski has said he wants to play a lot of guys so Duke can sustain a fast pace, but he also likes to have his best players on the floor a lot in big games.