DURHAM, N.C. (AP) No. 1 Duke didn’t have three of its top freshmen – and still had more than enough to rout Marist.
Grayson Allen scored 16 points and Duke opened its season by routing the Red Foxes 94-49 on Friday night.
“We’re a little bit undermanned now, and nobody feels sorry for us because they think we have an excessive number of men,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “But we just have to keep getting better.”
Freshman Frank Jackson had 18 points in his debut with the Blue Devils while Luke Kennard added 16.
Duke shot 44 percent and had an easy time against the Red Foxes despite playing without three big men from a freshman class widely considered the nation’s best.
Chase Jeter finished with 11 points in his first career start and Matt Jones also had 11 for Duke, which pushed its lead into double figures for good before Marist managed its first defensive stop.
Khallid Hart had 13 points to lead Marist, which was just 3 of 25 from 3-point range.
Injuries in the preseason have left the Blue Devils short in the paint: Forward Jayson Tatum missed both exhibition games after spraining his foot during a practice last month, center Marques Bolden earlier this week was declared out of both games this weekend with a leg injury, and forward Harry Giles is recovering after having his left knee scoped in October to clean up some loose bodies and scar tissue.
They didn’t need them.
Duke held a 56-33 rebounding edge against an outmanned Marist team that didn’t have anyone taller than 6-foot-9 on the roster.
“It speaks for the talent that we have and the confidence that we do have in the guys on the bench,” Allen said. “Whoever we put out there can be a good group.”
Marist: The Red Foxes met a similar fate as the previous 125 nonconference teams to visit Cameron Indoor Stadium. No shame in losing like this to Duke because the nation’s No. 1 team is hardly a fair measuring stick for a young team that went 7-23 last season.
“I didn’t think we played at our best,” Marist coach Mike Maker said, “but Duke had a lot to do with that.”
Duke: Jeter looked significantly more confident during his first start than he did at virtually any point during an uneven freshman season. With so many big men out, any production they can get from Jeter is a significant plus.
Krzyzewski says there’s no time frame for the injured players’ return, adding that “we’re just going to shut those guys down for a while” instead of rushing them back and risking re-injury.
“I’m going to be really adamant about taking a longer time than a shorter time, no matter what,” he added. Krzyzewski says Tatum may have returned to practice too soon “and that hurt him.”
The Blue Devils can’t climb any higher than No. 1, and at no point during this rout did they look like they deserve a lower ranking.
Marist has politics in North Carolina and New York to thank – at least partly – for this beating. The original schedule had Duke opening against Grand Canyon before playing Albany on Saturday, but the Great Danes had to back out of that game because of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order banning publicly funded, non-essential travel to North Carolina in response to a North Carolina law that limits protections for LGBT people. Organizers with the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic moved the Grand Canyon game back a day, swapped in Marist – which, as a private school, was not subject to the travel ban – and sent Albany to play at Penn State. In a show of unity against the North Carolina law, Maker said, the Red Foxes wore rainbow-colored socks.
Marist: The Red Foxes have a couple of travel days before taking on No. 23 Rhode Island on Monday night in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic.
Duke: The Blue Devils face a quick turnaround with Grand Canyon coming in Saturday afternoon. Consider it a final mid-major tuneup before taking on No. 3 Kansas next week in the Champions Classic.
Follow Joedy McCreary at http://twitter.com/joedyap.