"I am certainly pleased with our effort," said head coach Mike Krzyzewski. "I thought we played hard defensively the whole game. We obviously are the taller, more talented team and should win, but I thought our guys played every play hard, and that's what we're looking for."
The Blue Devils opened cold from the field going just 5-of-15 from the floor in the opening eight minutes of play. Despite the cold shooting, Duke jumped out to a 15-8 lead with 13:11 remaining in the opening half. Singler started a 22-4 surge with a three-point play and senior Greg Paulus capped off the run with a three-pointer off an assist from sophomore Nolan Smith to give the Blue Devils a 37-12 edge at the 2:41 mark. Jon Scheyer nailed a three-pointer on the following possession and Paulus knocked down his second trey of the half with just over a minute remaining to give Duke a 30-point cushion (44-14). MO< Smith hit a jumper and a pair of free throws in the final 40 seconds as Duke took a 48-17 edge into halftime. The Blue Devils canned their final five three-pointers of the opening half after starting the game 1-of-10 from three-point range.
Duke came out in the second half and stretched its lead to 72-29 with 11:54 remaining in the game. Virginia Union scored back-to-back baskets to trim the deficit to 39 before the Blue Devils went on a 27-5 run over the next seven minutes. Freshmen Miles Plumlee and Elliot Williams led the surge with eight and seven points, respectively. Williams hit back-to-back treys to push the score to 95-38 and junior Martynas Pocius capped the run with a slashing layup in traffic.
"We have a lot of guys who can play, and a lot of guys who are going to play," said Henderson. "Today showed it how a lot of guys can score and a lot of guys can defend. I think people saw what Miles [Plumlee] can do. He did a great job today. We are really excited about all the areas on our team."
The Blue Devils continued to stretch the lead in the final four minutes of play as sophomore Steve Johnson scored a couple of times in the lane and freshman Olek Czyz added four points, including a three-point play. Williams capped off the scoring with a free throw with three seconds remaining for a 114-50 win.
Singler was 5-of-9 from the field, including a pair of three-pointers, and added five rebounds and four assists. Henderson netted 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting and also had three rebounds, two assists and a team-high three steals. Scheyer knocked down three treys and all three free throw attempts to finish with 12 points.
Plumlee scored 14 points and added a team-high seven rebounds as well as two blocks in the win. The Warsaw, Ind., native was 6-of-9 from the floor and 2-of-3 from the foul line. Thomas finished with 11 points and six rebounds in 17 minutes of action.
"Miles is a good player," added Krzyzewski. "He's a very good athlete. Good hands, good feet, a shot blocker, runs and it is just a matter of him getting experience. He complements very well the three key guys for us in Kyle [Singler], G [Gerald Henderson], and Jon [Scheyer]. It's a really good fit with him. He'll get better, and he played well today. He's got a great feel for the game."
The Blue Devils held Virginia Union to 27.3 percent (18-of-66) shooting for the game, including 17.1 percent (6-of-35) in the opening 20 minutes. Duke had 10 blocked shots, including a team-high three by junior Brian Zoubek, and 12 steals in the game. Zoubek also had five points, six boards and two steals on the day.
"That is something we really stressed, getting the ball down to Miles [Plumlee] and Brian [Zoubek], and the guys inside," said Scheyer. "One thing our big guys can do a lot better than other bigs is that they can beat them running the floor. Teams have to honor that, because if they don't it will be there, and if they do, it will open up the game for the rest of us."
Duke's point guard tandem of Smith and Paulus also had a strong showing in the exhibition opener. Smith had eight points, four rebounds and a team-high six assists, while Paulus canned a pair of threes and added five assists, two steals and just one turnover.
"We have many players in this locker room that can start," said Smith. "My goal right now is to keep it up, keep running the team, and keep playing defense. Come the first game, whoever is starting, it doesn't really matter to me, and it doesn't matter to Greg [Paulus]. We are going to continue to come in and play together like we did today, and be maybe the best two point guards in the ACC."
Duke returns to action on Wednesday, Nov. 5 against Lenoir-Rhyne in its final tune-up before the season opener on Nov. 10 against Presbyterian in the opening round of the 2K Sports Classic.