No. 7 Duke wins in Scheyer’s debut

Jeremy Roach had 16 points, all in the first half, to lead the Blue Devils

Duke coach Jon Scheyer directs his team during the Blue Devils’ 71-44 win in Monday's season opener against Jacksonville. (Ben McKeown / AP Photo)

DURHAM — Jeremy Roach scored 16 first-half points to help seventh-ranked Duke open Jon Scheyer’s coaching tenure with a 71-44 win over Jacksonville on Monday night.

Freshman Mark Mitchell had a team-high 18 points for the Blue Devils, who used a 25-4 run spanning halftime to blow the game open. The Blue Devils turned a 28-24 lead to a 16-point margin by halftime behind Roach — the lone returning starter from last year’s Final Four team — then pushed that margin to 25 points by midway through the second half.

It was a quality start to a season of massive change for the Blue Devils, starting with Scheyer taking over for retired Hall of Famer Mike Krzyzewski. In fact, this marked the first coaching debut for the Blue Devils since Krzyzewski won his debut against Stetson on Nov. 29, 1980 — part of a college-basketball record 1,202 victories in a career that included leading Duke to five NCAA championships.

“I didn’t talk to them one time about it being my first or anything like that,” Scheyer said.

The 35-year-old Scheyer was the leading scorer on Coach K’s fourth title in 2010, then spent nine seasons on the Duke bench. He was designated as Krzyzewski’s successor in June 2021.

Scheyer did a postgame TV interview and then gave high-fives to the front row of “Cameron Crazies” as he headed to the tunnel afterward. And once he made it to the locker room, the team doused him with water in an impromptu celebration.

“He’s very calm,” Roach said of Scheyer. “He doesn’t want to look too worked up. Because if he’s looking worked up, how are we going to feel?”

In addition, Duke has 11 new players, including the nation’s No. 1-ranked recruiting class and two power-conference transfers. The Blue Devils didn’t have top freshmen Dereck Lively II and Dariq Whitehead for this one as they recover from preseason injuries.

Mike Marsh scored 15 points to lead the Dolphins, who shot just 34% and missed 18 of 19 3-pointers before making two meaningless 3s late. Jacksonville also couldn’t keep Duke off the glass, with the Blue Devils taking a 44-25 rebounding advantage with 18 second-chance points.

“They capitalized on a couple of our turnovers, they got got us in foul trouble,” Jacksonville coach Jordan Mincy said. “It obviously hurt our rebounding. I told our team in the locker room: in my time here at Jacksonville, no matter who we play, rarely do we get outrebounded.”

The Blue Devils host USC Upstate on Friday night.