The Blue Devils didn't disappoint. Avoiding the upset bug that has taken down favorite after favorite in the NCAA tournament, the top-seeded Atlantic Coast Conference champions opened play in the South Regional with a dominating 73-44 victory Friday night over No. 16 seed Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
Kyle Singler had 22 points and 10 rebounds for Duke, which never trailed. Jon Scheyer scored 13 and Lance Thomas 12. Nolan Smith added 10 points on a subpar shooting night (3 for 10) for the junior guard.
The victory gave coach Mike Krzyzewski his 11th 30-win season in three decades at Duke, which has made 10 trips to the Final Four under him, though none since 2006.
The Blue Devils (30-5) played like a team intent on changing that, pressing their overmatched opponents to start the game, building a 39-20 halftime lead and never giving Arkansas-Pine Bluff (18-16) a sense that the SWAC champions might have a chance to win.
The Golden Lions, appearing in the NCAAs for the first time, beat Winthrop 61-44 in the tournament opener Tuesday and are led by coach George Ivory, who played on a heavy underdog that gave powerful Duke a scare in the opening round 24 years ago. But this group of Blue Devils has learned they can't take anything for granted in March.
Duke survived a first-round scare against Belmont two years ago, and Krzyzewski and his players were determined to set the tone for what it hopes will be a strong run with a sharp performance.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff shot 32 percent and turned the ball over 16 times. Tavaris Washington led the Golden Lions with nine points. They turned in a respectable defensive performance, but struggled to score against Duke's bigger, more physical frontcourt.
Pine Bluff spent November and December crisscrossing the country, playing -- and losing -- its first 11 games on the road against steep competition that included Kansas State, Missouri, Michigan, Oklahoma State, Arizona State, Colorado, UTEP, Georgia Tech and Oregon.
Instead of damaging the Golden Lions' confidence, the tough competition more than prepared Ivory's team for the SWAC and the "play-in game" victory over Winthrop that earned them a date with Duke.
As a player, Ivory was part of a Mississippi Valley State team that was seeded 16th and gave top-seeded Duke all it could handle in the opening round in 1986 -- the year Krzyzewski led the Blue Devils to the Final Four for the first time.