In the first game back from an extended exam break and the first game without Amile Jefferson the Blue Devils worked hard, overcame, and eventually beat down an overmatched Georgia Southern, 99-65.
Replacing Amile Jefferson as the starting power forward, Brandon Ingram led his team in scoring (26) and rebounding (14) as Duke shook off a sloppy start to blow out Georgia Southern 99-65.
Ingram, who had averaged over 23 points per game over the previous two contests, took control early and continued to attack the rim, eventually finishing 9-of-13 from the floor and 6-of-9 from the charity stripe.
And the sensational freshman wasn’t alone on the offensive end either. Duke (9-1) got 18 points from Grayson Allen and 16 from Matt Jones.
In Jefferson’s absence, Marshall Plumlee logged 9 points and 11 rebounds in just 22 minutes. As a team Duke held a 55-29 rebounding advantage and shot 57.6 percent from the field after halftime.
During the first eight game the Blue Devils primarily relied on a seven man rotation with freshman Chase Jeter being the occasional eighth player to see minutes. With Jefferson’s 30 minutes per game opening up, Duke promoted Luke Kennard into the starting lineup while giving more minutes off the bench to Derryck Thornton and Jeter.
The three freshmen had varying levels of success throughout the game, though each proved why to loss of their senior teammate is such a big loss. Kennard shot poorly (4-of-13 from the field including 1-of-7 from the perimeter) for most of the night and Jeter seemed a bit overwhelmed at times. Thornton, however, finished with 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting and added four points and four rebounds in 27 minutes.
The Blue Devils will return to action on Saturday in New York against Utah.