Louisville, Ky. — Nice as it was to finally halt the losing streak, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski cautioned against reading too much into Saturday's 63-52 win over No. 6 Louisville.
That's asking a lot considering how effective the Blue Devils' zone defense was in denying the Cardinals inside.
Duke's defense made it easy for Jahlil Okafor to take over on the other end as he scored 14 of his 18 points in the second half. Amile Jefferson added 19 as Duke handed Louisville its first double-digit loss in three years.
Staggered by Tuesday's 16-point loss to Miami that ended their 41-game home winning streak, the Blue Devils (15-2, 3-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) rebounded to throttle the Cardinals on their home floor and end a two-game slide. The 6-foot-11 freshman Okafor and 6-9 Jefferson played a big role in outscoring Louisville 32-24 in the paint while denying the inside defensively.
Louisville (15-3, 3-2) shot just 18 of 61 from the field (30 percent) and failed again to beat one of the ACC's traditional powerhouses. The Cardinals lost at North Carolina last Saturday.
"I thought our offense was affecting our defense and we needed to change our point of pick up — whether it be man or zone — and put it at the top of the key," Krzyzewski said. "Try not to let people get points in the paint against us. Our guys did a good job of that."
Okafor, Jefferson and Justise Winslow each grabbed seven rebounds as the Blue Devils finally put Krzyzewski within two wins of 1,000.
"Coaches put in some new stuff coming into this game and we followed it to a T," Jefferson said. "We ran a new offense, we had new plays. We did a lot of things differently and it really helped us out today."
Terry Rozier's 17 points led Louisville, which trailed by 21 in the second half before getting within 10 points, at 58-48 with 1:29 remaining. The Blue Devils were firmly in control at that point and won the matchup between Hall of Fame coaches Krzyzewski and Rick Pitino.
Both teams shot poorly at the start, but Duke eventually took advantage of Louisville's misfires to close the half on a 15-6 run for a 30-20 halftime lead. The Blue Devils' zone defense succeeded in forcing the Cardinals into burning a lot of clock before taking long-range shots that missed despite good looks.
"This was the most open we've been and we just could not knock down the shot," Pitino said after the Cardinals' second-worst shooting performance this season. "I have said that we are a little offensively challenged from the perimeter, so we've got to be meticulous with our paint touches because we're not a great shooting team."
Okafor had just four points at the break, but the ACC's leading scorer soon asserted himself by scoring eight of Duke's first 16 points to turn the game into a rout and quiet a sellout crowd hoping the Cardinals would earn a signature ACC win.
Duke's 49 percent shooting took care of that.
No. 1 Kentucky 70, (at) Alabama 48: Devin Booker scored 13 points and Kentucky coasted to its second straight lopsided Southeastern Conference victory. The Wildcats (17-0, 4-0) withstood an early second-half rally by Alabama (12-5, 2-2) before brushing off the potential challenge. It wasn't a laugher like Kentucky's 86-37 win over Missouri on Tuesday night, but the Wildcats easily overwhelmed an Alabama team that had won six of its last seven games.
Kentucky made 8 of 17 3-pointers, including three each by Tyler Ulis and Booker, who had 10 second-half points. Ulis and Dakari Johnson scored 11 points for Kentucky, while Willie Cauley-Stein had nine.
Levi Randolph led Alabama with 13 points.
No. 2 Virginia 66, Boston College 51: Malcolm Brogdon scored 20 points, Anthony Gill had 11 points and 10 rebounds and Virginia pulled away to beat Boston College. The Cavaliers (17-0, 5-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) continued their best start since the Ralph Sampson-led 1980-81 team won its first 23 games.
Olivier Hanlan had 18 points and six assists for Boston College (8-8, 0-4).
No. 3 Gonzaga 72, (at) Loyola Marymount 55: Gary Bell Jr. scored 17 points and Gonzaga pulled away in the second half for its 11th straight win over the Lions. Kevin Pangos added 16 points and six assists, Bryon Wesley had 14 points and Kyle Wiltjer 12 points for the Zags (18-1, 7-0 West Coast). They've won 10 in a row since an overtime loss to Arizona on Dec. 6.
Ayodeji Egbeyemi had 14 points for the Lions (5-14, 1-6).
No. 5 Villanova 62, (at) Penn 47: Daniel Ochefu had 21 points and 10 rebounds for Villanova. The Wildcats (17-1) took a breather from Big East play to play their final game of the season in Philadelphia's city series. Against the Ivy Leaguers, the Wildcats only led by one midway through the second half until a 21-6 run finally clinched their fourth straight victory.
Antonio Woods had 18 points for the Quakers (4-9).
(At) No. 10 Arizona 69, No. 8 Utah 51: Stanley Johnson scored all 18 of his points in the second half, and T.J. McConnell added 16 points in a rare display of offensive aggression. Arizona (16-2, 4-1 Pac-12) came out shaky at both ends in the Pac-12's first game between Top 10 teams in nearly seven years. The Wildcats rallied behind McConnell, the pass-first point guard who created his own shots while still setting up his teammates.
McConnell had six assists, and Brandon Ashley added 14 points and eight rebounds.
Brandon Taylor had 12 points for Utah (14-3, 4-1).
(At) No. 11 Iowa State 86, No. 9 Kansas 81: Naz Long scored 20 points and Iowa State recorded back-to-back wins over the Jayhawks for the first time in 14 years. Georges Niang had 15 points for the Cyclones (13-3, 3-1 Big 12), who shot 9 of 20 on 3-pointers in snapping Kansas' five-game winning streak.
Long followed a long 3-pointer with a layup to give Iowa State a 71-57 lead with 6:26 left. Kansas pulled to 82-79 with 29 seconds to go, but Niang sealed the win by drawing a crucial charge with 14 seconds left.
Frank Mason III scored 21 points and Perry Ellis had 19 points and 11 rebounds for Kansas (14-3, 3-1), the last team in the Big 12 to lose a conference game.
(At) No. 12 Notre Dame 75, Miami 70: Jerian Grant scored 23 points and Notre Dame overcame a 12-point deficit in the second half. After making just two of their first 16 3-point tries, the Irish hit seven of their next nine. Grant's 3 broke a tie with 6:19 left, and he made a layup and blocked a shot in the last minute.
Notre Dame (17-2, 5-1 ACC) also equaled the program's best start through 19 games, matching the 1978-79 team. Sheldon McClellan scored 17 points for Miami (12-5, 2-2).
No. 13 Wichita State 61, (at) Evansville 41: Darius Carter and Ron Baker scored 18 points each. The Shockers (16-2, 6-0 Missouri Valley) held the Aces to their season-low points total and a season-low 30 percent from the field.
D.J. Balentine scored 16 points for Evansville (13-5, 3-3).
(At) No. 20 Texas 77, No. 16 West Virginia 50: Cam Ridley scored 19 points and set the tone with a thunderous early dunk as Texas ended a two-game skid. Jonathan Holmes added 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Longhorns, who routinely peppered the Mountaineers with dunks, blocks and ripped down rebounds at will. Myles Turner added 16 points for the Longhorns (13-4, 2-2 Big 12) in a game dominated by the muscular Texas frontcourt.
Gary Browne scored 14 points for West Virginia (15-3, 3-2), which got into foul trouble early and shot just 25 percent in its first loss away from home this season.
No. 17 VCU 70, (at) Duquesne 64: JeQuan Lewis scored a season-high 16 points and Virginia Commonwealth won its 10th straight. Melvin Johnson added 14 points for the Rams (15-3, 5-0 Atlantic 10). Scoring leader Treveon Graham missed the game because of an ankle injury.
Derrick Colter led the Dukes (6-10, 1-4) with 14 points.
(At) No. 18 Oklahoma 82, No. 24 Oklahoma State 65: Buddy Hield scored 27 points on 10-for-10 shooting. Jordan Woodard scored 13 points, Ryan Spangler had 11 points and 11 rebounds and TaShawn Thomas added 10 points for the Sooners (12-5, 3-2 Big 12), who ended a two-game skid and got their third win over a ranked team in conference play.
Oklahoma State's Le'Bryan Nash and Phil Forte, the top two scorers in the Big 12, were held in check. Nash scored 15 points, but he made just 6 of 15 shots. Forte scored 11 points on 3-for-11 shooting.
Leyton Hammonds scored 15 points and Anthony Hickey added 14 for the Cowboys (12-5, 2-3).
Mississippi 96, (at) No. 19 Arkansas 82: Stefan Moody had 18 points and Mississippi shot a season-high 56.4 percent. The Rebels (11-6, 2-3 Southeastern Conference) were playing their first road game since a crushing overtime loss at Kentucky. Ole Miss led the No. 1 Wildcats by 13 points before falling.
Bobby Portis had 23 points for Arkansas (13-4, 2-2). Michael Qualls and Ky Madden had 22 each.
(At) Kansas State 63, No. 22 Baylor 61: Nino Williams had 18 points to lead a big second-half rally, and Kansas State forced Baylor's Kenny Chery to miss a layup at the buzzer. Marcus Foster added 11 points and Thomas Gipson finished with nine, including a clutch free throw with 4.8 seconds left, to help the Wildcats (10-7, 4-1 Big 12) win their fourth straight game.
Chery led Baylor (13-4, 2-3) with 21 points, and Taurean Prince had 20.
No. 25 Wyoming 70, (at) Fresno State 65 (3OT): Larry Nance Jr. scored 21 points and Josh Adams added 16. Nance missed two free throws with a second left in the second overtime for the Cowboys (16-3, 5-1 Mountain West), but recovered to hit the basket that gave Wyoming the lead for good in the third overtime.
Nance's jumper with 1:05 left put Wyoming up 67-65 with 1:02 left and Charles Hankerson Jr. sealed the win with a 3-pointer with 14 seconds to play as Wyoming bounced back from a home loss to San Diego State.
Paul Watson scored 19 points for the Bulldogs.