DURHAM, N.C. — With three big men out with injuries, top-ranked Duke is leaning on its guards for a little bit of everything.
Grayson Allen had 25 points and 10 rebounds, freshman Frank Jackson added 21 points and the Blue Devils beat Grand Canyon 96-61 on Saturday.
“We have to rebound — the whole perimeter has to rebound,” said Allen, who finished one rebound shy of his career best. “We know the big guys that we do have in the game, they’re going to be battling, boxing out the other bigs, so the perimeter, we need to crash in and rebound and clean up all the loose stuff.”
Amile Jefferson scored 15 points, Luke Kennard finished with 14 and Matt Jones had 11 points for the short-handed Blue Devils (2-0).
Once again playing without three injured freshman post players, they kept things largely in their guards’ hands and shot 53 percent to win their second game in less than 24 hours.
“I like my team a lot. We just have to keep getting better, and then once all these injuries are taken care of in some time, we can become a different team,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “Right now, we have to be this team and not think about who we could be. Our complete focus has got to be how to win with this team.”
Now, with those two tuneup games out of the way, the focus squarely falls on one of the marquee matchups of the early season: a date with No. 3 Kansas on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.
Shaq Carr had 18 points to lead pesky Grand Canyon (0-1), which gave Duke more of a test than Marist did in a 94-49 rout a night earlier but came up empty in its second opener against a top-ranked team in three years.
Duke: The Blue Devils shortened their bench significantly, playing only seven players in the pre-garbage time portion of the game — and the seventh, freshman Javin DeLaurier, logged only 6 minutes in all. They’re trying to keep things working without injured freshman big men Harry Giles (knee), Marques Bolden (lower leg) and Jayson Tatum (foot). Krzyzewski says he doesn’t anticipate having them against the Jayhawks and “we may not have them all week.
“Whatever amount of time, whatever it is, let’s just get well,” Krzyzewski added. “And while you guys are getting well and supporting the team, let’s become a team with these nine guys. We made that a priority this past week. We’re trying to figure out the system we need for this group of guys.”
Grand Canyon: The Antelopes — who lost to No. 1 Kentucky by 40 points in 2014 — will have to be content with making things tough on Duke for a good chunk of the first half and leading for about 7 1/2 minutes of the first half behind Carr, who repeatedly found his way through the Blue Devils’ defense and to the rim.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” coach Dan Majerle said about a team missing three starters. “I was happy with how we started off. … I thought maybe the first 12, 13 minutes, we played pretty good and we’re going to learn about our team as we go along.”
The Blue Devils trailed for the first time this season but once again showed no reason why they should be ranked any lower than No. 1.
THE COLANGELO CONNECTION
Both coaches have strong ties to Jerry Colangelo. He was the Phoenix Suns’ owner when they drafted Majerle in 1988 and lured “Thunder Dan” to the Grand Canyon program in 2013.
And with Colangelo as its chairman and Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski as the coach, the U.S. national team won the last three Olympic gold medals.