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Wednesday's basketball: Williamson, Duke rout Eastern Michigan

Associated Press
Cam Reddish of the Duke Blue Devils drives between Boubacar Toure and James Thompson IV of the Eastern Michigan Eagles.

Durham, N.C. — Zion Williamson tossed up an alley-oop lob for RJ Barrett, and on the next trip downcourt, Barrett returned the favor by setting up a dunk for Williamson.

For these high-flying Blue Devils, that No. 1 ranking sure seems to fit.

Williamson scored 21 points, Barrett added 20 and Duke routed Eastern Michigan 84-46 on Wednesday night in its first game this season as the nation’s top-ranked team.

“It is great to be No. 1, but nobody really cares who’s No. 1 right now,” Williamson said. “The goal is to win a championship in March.”

Javin DeLaurier and Jack White added 10 points apiece for the Blue Devils (3-0). Playing two days after leapfrogging Kansas for the top spot in the AP Top 25, they looked every bit the part of a top-ranked team.

They shot 47 percent, turned 20 turnovers by the Eagles into 31 points and took command with an early 21-1 run keyed by an assortment of dunks by Williamson.

Damari Parris had nine points to lead outmanned Eastern Michigan (3-1), which shot 31 percent and was stuck in single-digit scoring for about 17 ½ minutes.

Unlike their last game — in which Army hung with them for about 30 minutes three days earlier — the Blue Devils took the drama out of this one early.

“Everything we did kind of worked,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said, “but the reason it worked is because we played so hard.”

Williamson put Duke up by 20 for good midway through the first half with the highlight of the night – leaping so high to pull in a seemingly errant alley-oop pass that his armpits were even with the rim before he dunked — and Barrett made it a 30-point game with a bucket with about five minutes before halftime.

“The atmosphere got the best of us the first 6-7 minutes of the game,” Eastern Michigan coach Rob Murphy said. “It was a struggle for us to score in the first half, and once you get down in this building … it’s pretty hard to come back.”

Big Ten

(At) Indiana 96, No. 24 Marquette 73: Romeo Langford scored 22 points, Evan Fitzner added 16 and Indiana locked down on defense. The Hoosiers are 3-0 for the eighth time in nine years. They beat a ranked team for only the second time in nine tries under second-year coach Archie Miller.

Sam and Joey Hauser and each scored 18 points to lead Marquette. Markus Howard also had 18 for the Golden Eagles (2-1), who were playing in Assembly Hall for the first time since 1985.

Miller challenged his defense to match its intensity and passion from Indian’s first two wins, and the Hoosiers looked even better against Marquette’s usually potent offense.

Indiana forced four turnovers in the first 2½ minutes, drew foul after foul and converted the miscues into points. The opening flurry gave Indiana a 19-4 lead, and Marquette never recovered.

(At) Nebraska 80, Seton Hall 57: James Palmer overcame a cold start to score 29 points, Isaac Copeland Jr. had 18 points and 10 rebounds, and the Cornhuskers (3-0) ended a seven-game losing streak against opponents from the Big East with their dominant performance in the Gavitt Tipoff Games.

The Pirates (1-1) made just 2 of 16 3-pointers and had just three assists against 14 turnovers.

Top 25

No. 9 Auburn 103, Mississippi College 52: Austin Wiley scored 18 points and No. 9 Auburn scored 35 consecutive points during a second-half stretch in a victory over Mississippi College.

Bryce Brown added 16 points for the Tigers (3-0), who went on a scoring tear of dunks, 3-pointers and fast-break baskets after the Division II Choctaws (1-2) briefly threatened to make it close.

(At) No. 10 Kentucky 96, North Dakota 58: PJ Washington set career highs with 25 points and seven rebounds, Tyler Herro added 18 points and the Wildcats (2-1) finally got the dominant effort they sought after scraping by Southern Illinois last week. They had to survive an initial back-and-forth with the Fighting Hawks (2-1), who led 13-12 before Washington’s 3-pointer put Kentucky ahead to stay. The Wildcats outscored North Dakota 27-7 over 9:46 for a 39-20 cushion and led by 38 in the closing minutes.

(At) No. 19 Clemson 74, Sam Houston State 59: Marcquise Reed had a season-high 26 points and Clemson used a second-half surge. The Tigers opened 3-0 for the second straight season and for just the fifth time in coach Brad Brownell’s nine years.

For a good while, though, it seemed the Bearkats of the Southland Conference were more than up to the challenge of handling an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent.

RJ Smith’s 3-pointer early in the second half put Sam Houston State ahead 38-37. But that’s when the Tigers took control with a 16-3 run fueled by its graduate student backcourt of Reed and Shelton Mitchell.

The Bearkats (2-2) could not respond as Clemson eventually grew the margin to 16 points down the stretch.