Moore, Banchero lead No. 2 Duke past Appalachian State, 92-67

ACC Basketball

Duke forward Wendell Moore Jr. (0) drives for a dunk against Appalachian State during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Durham, N.C., Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Wendell Moore Jr. scored 21 points as No. 2 Duke pulled away for a 92-67 victory over Appalachian State on Thursday night.

Moore made 8 of 11 shots and had five rebounds and six assists. Paolo Banchero scored 16 points, AJ Griffin and Trevor Keels had 11 apiece and Jeremy Roach scored 10 for the Blue Devils (9-1).

Duke ended the first half on a 20-9 run and led by 13 points at intermission. App State (6-6) had led 24-23 midway through the first half.

“That was a really good game for us. They play hard and they’re a veteran team,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “They were tough. I think the score is not indicative of the game.”

The Mountaineers trimmed the deficit to five points early in the second half, but Duke then connected on three straight 3-point attempts to push its lead to double digits again.

Leading the Mountaineers was Michael Almonacy, who scored all of his 17 points in the first half. Justin Forrest had 16 points for App State.

BIG PICTURE

Appalachian State: The Mountaineers brought back 92% of their scoring from a team that made the NCAA Tournament a year ago, the third ever App State team to do so. The Mountaineers hung with Duke for a while, but couldn’t keep pace with the Blue Devils in the second half. Still, App State should have enough firepower to compete for the Sun Belt championship again.

“I thought we battled,” App State coach Dustin Kerns said. “I just thought our guys got worn down and Duke was terrific. … I’ve got a good team and this will just make us better.”

Duke: The Blue Devils played well enough to win by a comfortable margin. Duke took care of the ball, racking up 21 assists to just nine turnovers. Duke entered this game with the third-best assist-to-turnover ratio in the country at plus-1.95.

“We’re a really good offensive team when we share the ball the way that we did tonight,” Moore said.

HIGHLIGHT REEL

Moore had two dunks that brought the crazy out of the fans at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The first was a fast-break tomahawk slam at the 3:02 mark in the first half that came amidst a 14-5 run for the Blue Devils. On the second, at the 5:55 mark in the second half, Moore charged down the lane through traffic for a one-handed jam that gave Duke a 20-point lead.

“He’s having, right now, an All-American year. He’s played as well as anybody. And he’s been a leader,” Krzyzewski said of Moore. “With all of the work he did in April and May, he completely changed his athletic ability.”

Entering this game, Moore was the only player in the country averaging better than 17 points, six rebounds and five assists per game while shooting better than 50% from the floor.

RESPECT FOR K

Many coaches — Krzyzewski included — are dressing down on the sidelines this season, ditching dress shoes and ties for sneakers and quarter-zips.

Kerns and his App State staff have embraced the athleisure trend, too, but he considered competing against Krzyzewski, likely for the last time, to be a special occasion. One that called for Kerns to wear a suit.

“It’s incredibly humbling to be on the sidelines with the winningest coach in college basketball history,” Kerns said. “This was me and my staff sharing a token of respect for him and his farewell tour. I think he’s our John Wooden.”

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Unless No. 1 Baylor slips up at Oregon on Saturday, Duke will likely remain at No. 2.

TIP-INS

After not playing Tuesday against South Carolina State due to a back injury, Duke’s Theo John returned to the lineup, scoring six points in 14 minutes.

UP NEXT

Appalachian State: The Mountaineers return to the Triangle on Tuesday, playing at North Carolina.

Duke: After its game against Cleveland State was canceled, Duke will now host Loyola (Maryland) on Saturday.

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