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No. 5 Duke takes down No. 21 Florida

No. 5 Duke takes down No. 21 Florida
Published On: Wed, Dec 07
Mar 23, 2015; Tallahassee, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles guard Emiah Bingley (3) and center Adut Bulgak (2) and forward Shakayla Thomas (20) celebrate following the Seminoles 65-47 victory over the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles during the second half of a game in the second round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK -- A month into the season, the Duke Blue Devils finally are getting closer to having all the pieces in place that made them a preseason favorite.

Led by Luke Kennard's 29 points, Amile Jefferson's career-high 24 points and a big boost from freshman sensation Jayson Tatum's 22 points and eight rebounds, No. 5 Duke bumped off No. 21 Florida 84-74 in the Jimmy V Classic on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.

Jefferson added 15 rebounds for his fifth double-double of the season, and Grayson Allen recorded a career-high eight assists for Duke (9-1).

Tatum, playing in his second game as a Blue Devil after sustaining a sprained ankle in the preseason, finished 8 of 8 from the foul line and 7 of 11 from the floor. He looked strong running the floor in transition and shooting from the perimeter. At one point, he nodded to former Blue Devil and current Cleveland Cavalier Kyrie Irving, who was sitting courtside, after he nailed a mid-range jumper.

"I was just excited," Tatum explained of the gesture. "(Irving) stood up, and that made me feel good.

"I'm just happy to be out here playing basketball. I was just focused on rebounding. I haven't really been able to do much. We're waiting for everybody to get 100 percent."

Another prized freshman, Marques Bolden, was cleared to play Saturday after also being out with an injury since the preseason. He played two scoreless minutes Tuesday and picked up two fouls.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski is eagerly awaiting the return of another superb recruit, 6-foot-10 freshman Harry Giles, whom the coach expects to have back by Christmas. Giles is coming back from a knee injury.

"It's almost like we're still in October mode while everyone else is in December mode," Krzyzewski said. "But we'll get there.

"They like each other, and when they were all healthy, Jayson and those guys (Bolden and Giles), they just made plays for each other in practice, but we haven't been able to do that completely, but you can see signs of it. I'm just anxious to get them all at practice. They'll all fit in."

Duke led for the entire second half, shooting 60.9 percent in the final 20 minutes.

KeVaughn Allen paced Florida (7-2) with 21 points, and Kasey Hill chipped in with 13 points and seven rebounds. John Egbunu had nine points and 12 rebounds.

Duke's only loss this season was a 77-75 decision to Kansas at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 15.

The Gators got within 78-71 with 2:28 left on a 3-pointer from Justin Leon, but the Blue Devils countered with a layup and two free throws from Kennard to move the lead to 82-71 with 1:12 remaining.

A pair of free throws from Tatum extended Duke's lead to 76-62 with 4:30 to play. Kennard's 3-pointer advanced the advantage to 53-39 at the 14:33 mark.

The Gators clawed back to 43-37 on a dunk from Egbunu, but Duke responded with a trey from Allen and a layup from Tatum to move ahead 50-37 with 16:02 left.

The lead changed six times in the first half before the Blue Devils created a little separation with a 19-6 run in the final six minutes of the half, erasing a 25-22 Gators lead and going into the break with a 41-31 edge.

Jefferson scored eight of his 18 first-half points in the sequence. Tatum contributed six points, four rebounds and two steals in 12 minutes in the half.

"I thought Amile Jefferson was absolutely amazing," Florida coach Mike White said, "the way he anchored their defense and the way he scored. They put us in scramble mode.

"You're talking about the number one offensive team in the country with Tatum and Bolden having not even played."

NOTES: F Amile Jefferson and F Jayson Tatum didn't practice with Duke on Monday. They were attending funeral services for their grandmother and great-grandmother, respectively. ... Florida coach Mike White is the son of Duke vice president and director of athletics Kevin White. ... Duke owns the third-most wins and has the fourth-best winning percentage in the nation during this decade. ... The Blue Devils have produced six top-10 NBA picks since 2011, second to Kentucky (eight) over that time span. ... This was the teams' first meeting since the Gators knocked off the Blue Devils in the 2000 NCAA Sweet 16 in Syracuse, N.Y.

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DeVon Walker G
John Egbunu C
Dorian Finney-Smith F
Alex Murphy F
Chris Chiozza G
Devin Robinson F
Schuyler Rimmer F
Justin Leon F
Kasey Hill G
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