Okafor scores 27, No. 2 Duke beats pesky Toledo

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DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Mike Krzyzewski wanted a test for all his talented freshmen at No. 2 Duke before ACC play starts.

They sure got one from Toledo.

Freshman center Jahlil Okafor scored a season-high 27 points and the Blue Devils pulled away to beat the pesky Rockets 86-69 on Monday night.

"We grew up," Krzyzewski said. "Our young guys are obviously very good, but they're not experienced, and you don't win just by being young and good. You've got to get experience."

Quinn Cook added a season-best 20 points and Tyus Jones had 15 for Duke (11-0), which was playing its first game since Dec. 18.

The Blue Devils raced out to a big early lead, then allowed Toledo to shoot itself back into the game before eventually pulling away.

Okafor was 12 of 15 from the field while reaching the 20-point mark for the fourth time in six games and facing mostly 1-on-1 defense.

"They said they were planning on playing me man-to-man coverage, and the coaches informed me of that, and my teammates prepared me to dominate early," Okafor said.

Julius Brown scored 19 for Toledo (7-5), which erased most of a 14-point deficit by making 13 of 15 shots over a 9½-minute stretch. Brown's 3-pointer about 90 seconds into the second half cut Duke's lead to 47-44.

Okafor then reeled off seven straight points to start the decisive 21-9 spurt.

His personal run included transition dunks 20 seconds apart and a stickback to put the Blue Devils up 54-44 with 16 minutes left.

Jones capped the run with the play that finally allowed Duke to exhale: a four-point play in which he swished a 3 through contact from Jonathan Williams, then hit the free throw that followed to make it 68-53 with 9:10 to go.

Toledo — which missed eight of its next 11 shots after Brown's 3 — never got closer than 11 the rest of the way.

Justin Drummond and J.D. Weatherspoon added 14 points apiece and Williams had 10 for the Mid-American Conference favorite Rockets.

They overcame a rough start to put quite a scare into Duke. They did it by mostly defending Okafor with only one man — most every other opponent has sent a second defender at the 6-foot-11 preseason All-American — and keeping focused on the other Blue Devils.

"He's as good of a passer (in the post) as it gets," Toledo coach Tod Kowalczyk said of Okafor. "If you send one guy (to double-team him), he'll pick you apart."

The Rockets hit eight straight shots and 11 of their final 14 of the first half to make things tense, trailing just 41-37 at the break.



Krzyzewski seemed to channel former assistant and guard Steve Wojciechowski — the Marquette coach and lead floor-slapper back when he was at Duke — in the second half. After a transition dunk by Okafor, Coach K gave the floor a slap to inspire a defensive stand. "I did some 'Wojo' things today," Krzyzewski said. "I still want to win. Badly. And my team deserves emotion. They got it and they gave it back, which was a cool thing."


Cook and Jones combined to make all 15 of their free throws, including eight in the final 3½ minutes.


Toledo: The Rockets had their five-game winning streak snapped. They were denied their first win over a ranked team since beating Michigan State in 2002.

Duke: The Blue Devils won their 29th straight December game, a streak that dates to a 2009 loss at Wisconsin.


Toledo is at Northern Kentucky on Jan. 3.

Duke is home against Wofford on Wednesday.


Follow Joedy McCreary on Twitter at http://twitter.com/joedyap

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