EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.—Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski called an early timeout in the second half after watching Temple outhustle his team on a loose ball.
As the team gathered around, Krzyzewski grabbed a chair, lowered his head and clinched his teeth. He banged the chair up and down a few times before asking his team, which led by 10 at that point, a question: “Where is your fight?”
Immediately, Duke doubled the lead, and Temple never threatened again as the No. 2 Blue Devils won 90-67.
“You get away from it for a week, you get a little bit rusty,” head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “So, I knew we would have a few problems with that and with Temple, so I'm real pleased with the win.”
Duke (9-0) went on a 15-4 run after Krzyzewski's challenge. Outside of a brief hot stretch from 3-point range in the final five minutes of the first half, Temple (6-1) consistently failed to hit open shots and finished the game with a 39.7 field goal shooting percentage. Duke faced no such offensive deficiencies, shooting 47.5 percent from the floor and 60.0 percent (12-of-20) from 3-point range. Seth Curry, back in the lineup after missing the Delaware game with a left ankle injury, scored a team-high 23 points on 7-of-11 shooting.
Ryan Kelly recorded his first double-double of the season with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Mason Plumlee added his sixth double-double of the season with 16 points and 14 rebounds as well.
“When Ryan defense rebounds like he does today, that adds a different element,” Krzyzewski said. “The one thing we have not done well is defensive rebound. Now, we've played good defense, but teams are getting 15-18 offensive rebounds against us every game.”
Temple did pull down 16 offensive boards against the Blue Devils, but those only resulted in 13 second-chance points. Krzyzewski is right, though-other than rebounding, it's hard to point to a definitive weakness of this Duke team.
“We're so balanced,” Plumlee said. “We have five guys that can go off in any game, and that's really hard to defend. Because when teams scout us, what do you take away?”
Early on, Temple attempted to take away Plumlee, and the Owls were able to limit his effectiveness as he shot 5-of-14 from the field. And, as evidence of Temple’s efforts, Plumlee had three bleeding cuts beneath his left shoulder at one point in the second half. But even though he shot a season-low from the field, he still recorded 16 points, and--to Plumlee's point--every starter expect Rasheed Sulaimon (eight points) hit double figures as well.
After the game, Temple head coach Fran Dunphy identified the two Blue Devils that he thought hurt his team the most.
“As good as Plumlee and Kelly were inside, the guys that just hammered us were Curry and [Quinn] Cook,” Dunphy said. “Their guards just stepped up and made huge shots for them.”
While he didn't hit as many shots as he typically does, Sulaimon recorded seven assists (against no turnovers) and a steal. It's complete performances like this one that have already made the Blue Devils bona fide national championship contenders.
And one other reason for that lies in the answer to the second-half question Krzyzewski asked during that timeout.
“This team has a characteristic that my really outstanding teams have had,” Krzyzewski. “And that is they fight. They fight together.”