Faced with the prospect of facing undefeated and No. 1 ranked Duke at Cameron on Saturday, South Dakota coach Craig Smith tried to get some scouting help from someone familiar with the Blue Devils.
“I saw Wojo (former Duke player and longtime Duke assistant coach Steve Wojciechowski) at Marquette this summer, at an AAU tournament,” Smith said. “I said, ‘Hey, can you give me any kind of advice?’”
Wojciechowski told him, “You better be locked in that first seven minutes, because they can really overwhelm you.”
“He was a prophet,” Smith said.
Seven minutes into the game, Duke led 20-11. The Blue Devils then scored the next 10 points, ending any hope of an upset long before halftime. Duke ended up cruising to its tenth win of the season with a 96-80 victory.
“They’re really, really good,” Smith concluded. “There’s a reason they’re number one in the country. It’s pretty amazing what they’ve done—they’re 10-0, and this is just their (fifth) game at Cameron this year.”
The Blue Devils shut down guard Matt Mooney, South Dakota’s leading scorer each of the last two seasons, holding the 18.3 ppg scorer to just five shots and three points.
“He just had 30 two nights ago, and Grayson (Allen) really took it upon himself to play him hard,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “Our team just had to focus on that, and that helped us.”
“He did a tremendous job on Mooney,” Smith said. “Made it very, very difficult for us to get him catches in spaces that we normally can. Matt showed some frustration tonight that normally he doesn’t show, and that was a lot to Duke. And then when he would get a half-step advantage or by someone, then you got Marvin Bagley there and number 34 Wendell Carter there.”
Bagley had a career-high three blocked shots on the day, to go with 19 points and 12 rebounds, his eighth double-double of the year, tops in the nation.
Allen added a game-high 24 points, hitting 4-of-5 on three-pointers.
Duke was returning home after playing nine games in 20 days, including trips to Portland and Indiana in the last week, making the team’s fast start even more impressive.
“Yesterday, we had a really good practice,” Krzyzewski said. “It wasn’t that long, but it was very enthusiastic, and that’s how we came out. That’s how we played, or it wouldn’t have been 56 to 30 at halftime. We played really well.”
In the second half, Krzyzewski focused on giving reserves Alex O’Connell, Marques Bolden and Jordan Goldwire extended playing time, allowing South Dakota to trim 10 points off the lead.
Despite the second-half letdown, Krzyzewski was happy with his team’s performance.
“Overall, look, we’re 10-0, with this schedule,” he said. “It’s been really good. Can it be better? Yeah. Can it be worse? Hell yes, it can be a lot worse. It can be a hell of a lot worse.”