DURHAM, N.C. (AP)It was only a few months ago that Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski wasn’t sure how much playing time Joey Baker could earn this season on a deep roster.
If he keeps shooting like this, he won’t have any problems finding that time on the court.
Baker had career highs of 22 points and five 3-pointers to help the fourth-ranked Blue Devils beat Wofford 86-57 on Thursday night, with all of his field goals coming after halftime.
The 6-foot-7 sophomore missed his only two shots of the first half but made 6 of 9 after halftime, with 5 of 6 coming from behind the arc – some with a defender within arm’s reach. The Blue Devils used his confident stroke to stretch their lead to blowout territory.
The flurry had Duke’s ”Cameron Crazies” chanting his name.
”You definitely feed off of that,” Baker said. ”But in the moment, you’re just worried about next play, getting the stop and getting the win.”
Vernon Carey Jr. added 20 points and 10 rebounds for Duke (10-1), which shot 54% in its return from a nearly two-week pause in the schedule. The Blue Devils played without starting point guard Tre Jones due to what the school described as a ”mild sprain” in his left foot from a recent practice.
That meant the Blue Devils were subbing a lot and giving different looks without their floor leader, but it didn’t keep Duke from a lopsided win over a Wofford team that beat North Carolina over the weekend.
The 6-10 Carey scored over defenders and off the glass, and Baker got hot after a five-point first half. Baker’s night was highlighted by two 3-pointers to give Duke a 52-30 lead with 14:17 left that led the Terriers to call a timeout in a game that had already gotten away.
Then came another impressive burst, first with Baker taking a confident pump-fake and side-step left to hit a 3-pointer against Zion Richardson. Then came one over the outstretched arm of Donovan Theme-Love to make it 72-45 at the 6-minute mark.
”In September, I wasn’t sure how much Joey could play,” Krzyzewski said. ”And Joey has come every day in practice, and he shoots game shots, even when he’s just shooting. He’s become our quickest shooter and most accurate shooter.”
Tray Hollowell scored 17 points to lead the Terriers (7-5). They shot just 35.5% despite hitting 10 3-pointers. Coach Jay McAuley said the Blue Devils’ pressure defense had the Terriers playing faster than they wanted.
”It won’t be the last time teams pressure us or try to do some things to take away some options that we have,” McAuley said. ”Some of our guys I thought handled it really well … and some of our older guys just kind of got a little sped up trying to do too much.”
Wofford: The Terriers were chasing a memorable two-game stretch in the state of North Carolina. The Terriers beat the Tar Heels on Sunday in Carmichael Arena, North Carolina’s former campus home that was hosting its first regular-season game since 1986. But they didn’t fare nearly as well in Duke’s venerable Cameron Indoor Stadium, seeing a 16-15 deficit balloon as Duke took over with a 10-0 run.
”If we could just bottle up the first eight minutes of the game and expand on that, I’ll be happy,” McAuley said.
Duke: The Blue Devils got a look at how they’d play without Jones, their floor leader who provides a consistent defensive pressure on the ball. Jones had averaged 37.3 minutes per game when factoring out a 9-minute showing after being shaken up during a first-half collision against Central Arkansas on Nov. 12. Jordan Goldwire started at the point and finished with eight points and five assists with no turnovers in 28 minutes.
MORE ON JONES
Krzyzewski said Jones would have played had it been an Atlantic Coast Conference game.
”It’s better with this break just to get well,” Krzyzewski said. ”He’ll be back and he’ll play right away. So we’re not hiding anything or anything like that.”
Wofford: The Terriers visit Kennesaw State on Sunday.
Duke: The Blue Devils have another extended break and don’t play again until hosting Brown on Dec. 28.
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