DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Matthew Hurt scored 24 points and accounted for six of Duke's 13 3-pointers, and the No. 6 Blue Devils used a 19-2 run in the second half to cruise past Bellarmine 76-54 on Friday night.
The hot-shooting Blue Devils (2-1) raced to a 17-4 advantage and led 25-15 at the break behind 48% shooting. They had six 3-pointers, one more than they hit in Tuesday's 75-69 loss to eighth-ranked Michigan State.
Bellarmine overcame a 1-for-9 shooting start and closed within 28-25 late in the first half before Duke closed with a 7-0 run, taking a double-digit lead it never lost.
Hurt kept up his hot shooting and finished 9 of 12 from the field, including 6 of 8 from long range, to finish a point shy of his career high, which came against Boston College last December. Jaemyn Brakefield, who entered the game 1 for 4 from behind the arc, made all four deep shots for 12 points, while Jalen Johnson overcame two early fouls and finished with nine points. Duke shot 52%.
This performance was a big improvement over the Michigan State game, which Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski credited to better ball movement by his young squad.
“Another aspect is just them getting to know each other,” he said. "We are not a veteran team. Seven of the 11 guys are new.
"It’s not going to be a well-oiled machine, but it’s got to be a hard-working machine and a machine that keeps cutting down on the turnovers. We just have to keep working and keep trying to get better.”
The Knights (0-1), making their Division I debut, got 14 points from Nick Thelen and 13 from Ethan Claycomb. Bellarmine shot 43% and outscored Duke 38-30 in the paint, but was just 3 of 9 from long range and outrebounded 38-27.
“If I told you going into the game that points in the paint were going to be 38-30 Bellarmine," coach Scott Davenport said, "and then the free throw line was going to be even (five each), wow. Wow.
“But you got to give them credit because they go 13 out of 26 from the 3-point line. ... So, incredibly proud of our guys.”
Bellarmine: Cancellations due to COVID-19 wiped out two games the Knights had hoped would introduce them to Division I play. Then senior C.J. Fleming, a 3-point threat, didn't make the nearly nine hour bus ride to North Carolina. That lack of action and his absence showed at first as they started cold from the field before settling down and making it close in the first half. They were no match for the Blue Devils after that, and 20 turnovers didn’t help.
Duke: Perimeter shooting propelled the Blue Devils throughout, along with a fast pace that helped them pull away. There were still some flaws as they were outscored 38-30 in the paint, but Duke won the boards and blocked eight shots. Most importantly, it held the lead and even built on it.
Bellarmine visits Howard on Sunday before making its home debut in D-I against Tennessee-Chattanooga on Wednesday at Freedom Hall, the former longtime home of the crosstown Louisville Cardinals.
Duke hosts Illinois on Tuesday in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.
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