CAMERON INDOOR STADIUM/DURHAM Duke takes on its second straight high-powered Division II opponent, this time defending NCAA champion Findlay.
Ron Niekamp’s Oilers come in with a serious attitude, along with perhaps 200 Orange and Black-clad fans behind the team bench.
It’s an announced sellout at Cameron, and almost every seat is occupied.
Findlay went 36-0 last season, and is picked No. 4 nationally in Division II. Duke is ranked No. 9 in The Associated Press’ preseason poll.
Duke is much bigger, starting a lineup of 7-1 Brian Zoubek at center, 6-10 Miles Plumlee and 6-8 Lance Thomas at the forward spots, and 6-8 Kyle Singler and 6-5 Jon Scheyer at the guard spots. That’s just sick, as the expression goes.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski says he can’t imagine starting a taller lineup in college ball. But he goes without 6-2 junior guard Nolan Smith in the first half. Smith is going to miss the season’s first two games because of Duke’s self-reported NCAA rules violation in which he played in one or two unsanctioned basketball games last summer. If there’s a clock and score is being kept, that’s trouble, Krzyzewski explains.
Findlay goes 6-7, 6-5, 6-4, 6-3, 5-9, and it’s a pretty good sight gag when the teams hit the floor. And the Blue Devils coast, 84-48.
The Oilers go up 2-1 on Marcus Parker’s layup at 19:28 after Miles Plumlee hits one of two from the line. But a Singler jumper makes it 3-2 at 18:44 and the Blue Devils never trail again.
Findlay keeps its hardy fans in the game, trailing only 36-23 at halftime. The Devils even go to a 2-3 zone for a stretch late in the first half.
And Duke doesn’t get its first 20-point lead until Singler’s 3-pointer makes it 47-27 with 17:51 left.
But the dam breaks for the visitors, as Duke scores the next 13 points to settle the issue.
Duke’s biggest lead is 80-37 on a pair of Smith free throws with 5:20 to go.
Singler hits 20 points with nine rebounds and Scheyer 19 points to lead Duke, which wins the rebound battle 59-38 and the shooting contest 41.2 percent to 25.3.
Marcus Parker has 14 points to top the Oilers while Nathan Hyde chips in 13.
They said it …
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski: “Tonight was a good game for us. One of the reasons we scheduled Findlay was because they have so much pride in their program and they’re very well coached. Whenever you play a Division II team you’re going to be taller, but they spread us out really well. I thought overall we did a good job tonight. I thought it was (freshman) Andre (Dawkins’) best game tonight even though he didn’t shoot the ball well. He was animated, played hard. … And Lance gives us a lot of energy. He’s all over the place.”
Singler: “Overall, I thought we did a decent job. We could have done better offensively, we had a few turnovers and some bad shots. We need to let the game come to us. We have a big lineup that caused some mismatches. … (The performance) was about a B-minus. We had some good moments, but we have a lot of things to work on.”
Scheyer: “Team-wise, we could have played better. Findlay was a good team, especially for their division. … Nolan (Smith) is very good in transition, and we do kind of lose that aspect when Nolan is not in the game. When he is not in the game, we have to make sure we value the ball and make sure our passes are in the right place.”
What does it all mean?
That Duke can put a very big lineup on the floor when it wants, and that Findlay would need to go elsewhere to knock off a Division I opponent.
Stars of the game
3. Brian Zoubek, with nine points, nine rebounds and no fouls.
Play of the game
Zoubek’s layup from Singler to make it 29-16 with 4:40 left in the first half.
Findlay at Utah (exh.), Saturday, 2 p.m.
Duke vs. UNC Greensboro, Nov. 13, 7 p.m.