New York — Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski was pleased with his young team’s poise in the season opener, especially that of sophomore Tre Jones.
Jones scored 15 points and Cassius Stanley added 11 of his 13 points in the second half to help No. 4 Duke beat third-ranked Kansas 68-66 in the opener of the Champions Classic on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.
“The difference maker was Tre. Lot of young guys, lot of new guys,” Krzyzewski said. “We really tried to play good defense in our first 30 practices. We played really good defense (tonight). It starts with that kid. Really happy with my team. Terrific win for us.”
While Duke doesn’t have the star-studded freshmen class of last season of Zion Williamson, Cam Reddish and RJ Barrett, Krzyzewski may have a more balanced team, capable of making plays down the stretch when needed.
“One of the main things I have to learn how to do is sub,” the Hall of Fame coach joked. “Last couple years might bring in one guy. All of a sudden there are three guys. Not sure I did a good job, but it worked.”
Trailing 61-59 with 2:29 left, Stanley drove to the basket and made the layup and was fouled. The freshman guard converted the free throw to give the Blue Devils a one-point lead.
Devon Dotson missed a layup on the other end and Jones then hit a jumper that bounced off the rim twice before dropping in with 1:33 left.
Marcus Garrett got the Jayhawks back within one. After a miss by the Blue Devils, Kansas turned the ball over with 37 seconds left. It was the Jayhawks’ 28th turnover of the game. Jones then converted two free throws with 26.2 seconds left.
Kansas had chances, but couldn’t convert until Dotson banked in a meaningless 3-pointer at the buzzer. He finished with 17 points.
“We’re disappointed in the outcome. That was a game that either team could have won multiple times. We had ourselves in good position in the second half and the game got away from us,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “It’s a learning experience. Not sure a game win or lose on Nov. 5 will count much in March. There’s a lot of things we can learn.”
Self wasn’t happy with the turnovers, but knows that it was the first game of the season.
“Duke’s defense is better than the exhibition game. I think we played uncharacteristic,” Self said. “I think we made easy plays difficult many times. A lot of that was the nerves, the environment. Guys wanted to do well so bad.”
Tuesday’s game marked the return of Kansas senior Udoka Azubuike, who played only nine games last year after tearing ligaments in his right hand. He had eight points. It also was the first game for Silvio De Sousa since the 2017-18 season. He was suspended for two seasons because of NCAA violations and sat out last year as Kansas was implicated in the FBI probe of college basketball. Kansas won an appeal that allowed De Sousa to play this year. He got a nice ovation from the fans when he checked in nearly 3:30 into the game. He finished with three points.
Duke led 33-30 at the half as neither team really got into much of an offensive rhythm in the opening 20 minutes. There was a lot of sloppy play with Kansas committing 18 turnovers. Despite all the miscues, the Jayhawks were able to stay in the game by hitting 10 of their 19 shots from the field.
No. 1 Michigan State played second-ranked Kentucky in the second game of the doubleheader. This is the first time in the nine-year history of the event that the four teams occupy the top four spots in the poll.
More Top 25
No. 5 Louisville 87, (at) Miami 74: Jordan Nwora’s 23-point performance included four 3-pointers and a throwdown dunk to help Louisville open with an Atlantic Coast Conference victory.
The Cardinals are touted as a potential Final Four team, and they lived up to the hype with a rout on the road against an ACC opponent.
Nwora, the preseason ACC player of the year, shot 8 for 16 and had 12 rebounds in 31 minutes. He brought the Louisville bench to its feet when he leaped to make a one-handed catch and dunk in one motion on Ryan McMahon’s alley-oop pass.
McMahon sank three consecutive 3-pointers as Louisville scored 17 consecutive points during a four-minute span in the first half and never looked back. The Cardinals’ largest lead was 72-40.
McMahon and Dwayne Sutton had 16 points apiece for the Cardinals.
(At) No. 7 Maryland 95, Holy Cross 71: Jalen Smith had 16 points and 11 rebounds, Darryl Morsell scored 15 and Maryland launched a season of high hopes with a win.
Taking full advantage of their height and depth, the Terrapins placed four players in double figures, finished with a 47-33 rebounding advantage and scored 64 points in the paint. Despite trailing early, Maryland forged ahead by 12 at halftime and won its 43rd consecutive home opener.
Freshman guard Drew Lowder scored 24 for Holy Cross, playing its first game under coach Brett Nelson. The Crusaders took only five foul shots compared to 24 for Maryland.
Holy Cross trailed by just seven before Maryland went on a 16-4 run that made it 68-49.
No. 20 Saint Mary's 63, Wisconsin 63 (OT): In Sioux Falls, S.D., Jordan Ford scored 26, Malik Fitts added 16 and Saint Mary’s hung in the season opener for both teams.
Saint Mary’s led the entire second half before Wisconsin closed the gap and took a brief lead in OT. But Fitts’ basket with 55 seconds to play gave the Gaels the lead for good.
Freshman Kyle Bowen hit 1 of 2 free throws with 4.4 seconds remaining for the Gaels, and Wisconsin had a chance to win it, but Aleem Ford’s deep 3 at the buzzer was short.
Nate Reuvers tied a career-high with 22 points and Brad Davison scored 16 for Wisconsin.
UC-Riverside 66, (at) Nebraska 47: Reserve DJ McDonald scored a career-high 15, George Willborn III had 13 points and 18 rebounds, and UC Riverside upset Nebraska to spoil Fred Hoiberg’s coaching debut with the Cornhuskers.
The Big West’s Highlanders, who went 10-23 last season and have had one winning season since joining Division I in 2000, won for the first time over a Power Five opponent since beating California in November 2017.
Cam Mack had 11 points and nine rebounds and Matej Kavas added 10 for the Huskers, who lost a season opener at home for the first time since 1980.
Nebraska shot just 29 percent from the field and was 9-of-19 from the foul line.
(At) Penn State 84, Maryland-Eastern Shore 46: Lamar Stevens scored 10 of his 17 in the first half and Penn State pulled away.
Myles Dread added 15 points with five 3-pointers and Mike Watkins chipped in 12 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for the Nittany Lions who improved to 8-1 in season openers under coach Patrick Chambers.
Penn State also got 10 points apiece from Myreon Jones, Curtis Jones Jr. and Izaiah Brockington on a night the Nittany Lions combined for 12 3-pointers and made 50% of their field goals.
(At) Illinois 78, Nicholls State 70 (OT): Andres Feliz scored 23 and grabbed 11 rebounds and Illinois beat Nicholls State in overtime.
Ayo Dosunmu scored 21, Giorgi Bezhanishvili added 11 points, and freshman big man Kofi Cockburn had 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Fighting Illini.
Illinois was up 30-19 at the half and led by 20 points early in the second half before going cold.
(At) Minnesota 85, Cleveland State 50: Marcus Carr had 18 points, seven rebounds and eight assists and Payton Willis added 17 points and eight assists in their debuts for Minnesota.
Daniel Oturu pitched in 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds despite six turnovers for the Gophers, who faced the Vikings for the first time in their histories.
(At) Indiana 98, Western Illinois 65: Justin Smith matched his career high with 24 points and Al Durham added 21 for Indiana.
Indiana has won 21 of its last 22 season openers while improving to 99-21 all-time in the first game.