DURHAM, N.C. — After Saturday’s 94-55 loss to fifth-ranked Duke, the University of Maine men’s basketball team needs to step back.

As their 2-6 record might indicate, the Black Bears have some things to sort out, and Cameron Indoor Stadium is a tough place to fix those problems. To their credit, they kept things interesting in the first half.

“Everything about them kind of wore us down,” Maine Coach Bob Walsh said. “I thought they took our spirit away in the second half.”

The return of Luke Kennard helped Duke finally resemble the team that was picked No. 1 in the preseason.

The fifth-ranked Blue Devils welcomed two key big men to the rotation – but also played without two starting guards.

With Kennard scoring a career-best 35 points, Duke routed Maine in the long-awaited debut of freshmen Jayson Tatum and Marques Bolden.

“I’m just excited for everybody to get back,” Kennard said. “I’m excited to be a full, healthy team, and just step on the pedal and be who we are going to be during the season.”

Amile Jefferson added a career-high 20 points and Tatum finished with 10 for the Blue Devils (8-1), who shot 60 percent while playing without a true point guard.

Preseason All-American Grayson Allen and freshman Frank Jackson – their starting backcourt for the past four games – were held out. Allen has been dealing with a lingering toe injury while Coach Mike Krzyzewski said Jackson has “a little bit of a sore foot.”

Krzyzewski said both players should be back for Tuesday night’s game against No. 24 Florida in New York.

They certainly didn’t need them to rout the struggling Black Bears. Ilker Er scored all 20 of his points in the first half for Maine.

The story of this one was who finally played for Duke, as well as who didn’t.

Duke has been without three injured five-star freshmen all season, with Tatum out since spraining his foot during an October practice in front of NBA scouts and Bolden sidelined since injuring his leg before the regular season started.

Tatum wound up starting and scored his first basket on a banked jumper about 7 minutes in. Bolden was the first man off Duke’s bench and his first points came when he stuck back Tatum’s missed layup with about 7 1/2 minutes until halftime.

Tatum played 20 minutes and left after catching a leg cramp in the second half. Bolden logged 12 minutes off the bench and Krzyzewski said he “just got tired.”

“I was just happy to be out there – to rebound, to play defense and to win,” Tatum said.


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