Fresh off being ranked number two once again, Duke had an easy time beating Elon 75-62 in a game that was about taking it easy and giving Freshman Jahlil Okaford an opportunity to break some records and set some outstanding milestones.
It’s been a very good season for the 6’11 center up until now, averaging 17.1 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. His performance in the win against an in-state rival was possibly his finest to date, as Duke played for the first time since their impressive win against Wisconsin on the road. Okafor scored 25 points, grabbed 20 rebounds and added 3 blocks in a game that presented him as a bigger than life figure, at least for the Elon players.
With his 25-20 night, Okafor set a new freshman record at Duke for rebounds, becoming the first Duke freshman to have a 20-20 game. He is the first Duke player with 20 rebounds since Elton Brand in 1998, only the second Freshman in ACC history with a 20-20 game (Jose Smith with 23 points and 20 rebounds for Maryland 20 years ago) and the first division I freshman with a 20-20 game since Michael Beasley pulled one off for Kansas State in 2007.
Besides it being the Okaford show, Duke got 13 points from Amile Jefferson, 12 from Justice Winslow and 11 from Rasheed Suliamon. Duke shot 51.8% from the field, helped by Okafor going 10-of-14 from the field. Despite going 3-of-16 from beyond the arc, they had no problem dominating the boards or any other aspect of the game that was about size, grabbing 13 offensive rebounds against the Phoenix, having two 6’7 players as their big men in the lineup.
The Duke players and their coach, Mike Krzyzewski, didn’t feel happy about their win. Okafor called it the worst feeling after a win all season long, because of the team shooting just 51.9% from the line and doing so badly with open shots from beyond the arc. There are still some easy games to go before the play in the ACC begins, and it’s a good sign for Coach K if his players realize that even these comfortable wins aren’t anything to make them feel too proud about.
It’s like sweeping dirt under the rug. The dirt’s still there. Now he’s a big rug. But you’re still sweeping dirt under there. This is the worst we’ve felt all year after a win.