CHICAGO – As homecomings go, Jon Scheyer‘s was about as good as it gets.
The Duke star saw the familiar faces in the stands and heard the voices of those who had been part of his life – friends, teachers and family. About 500 of them cheering his every move. And they had plenty to get excited about Wednesday night.
Scheyer scored 31 points on a variety of shots and led the fifth-ranked Blue Devils to an 86-65 victory over Iowa State.
He called it an experience that was both emotional and a little weird.
“There were people who have been there for me throughout my whole life since I’ve been a little kid,” said Scheyer, a prep star in suburban Northbrook, Ill.
“Many people haven’t been able to see me play. This is their first time being able to see me, so that means a lot, too. … I know people changed their plans to be here.”
Scheyer, who scored more than 3,000 points for Glenbrook North High, shot 10 of 19 with four 3-pointers. And he did it on the court at the United Center.
“This morning I was a little nervous at our shootaround because I’ve been here so many times to watch games and seen so many great players here,” Scheyer said. “Not too many courts I walk on that I feel like it is a big deal. But for me it was today and it ended up being a good night.”
The Blue Devils (13-1) won their seventh straight game behind a balanced attack, a defense that forced 18 turnovers and aggressive rebounding.
Marquis Gilstrap paced Iowa State (10-4) with 16 points. Leading scorer Craig Brackins, who came in averaging 17, had 12.
Scheyer’s 3-pointer with the shot clocking running down extended the Blue Devils’ lead to 50-35 early in second half. His three-point play about 7 minutes in put the Blue Devils up 19 as they opened the second half with a 17-6 run.
The Cyclones whittled it to 12 but Smith and Scheyer hit 3-pointers to put Duke back up by 17.
“Some of the plays he makes, well you think he’s not that fast or whatever,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said of Scheyer. “He really has great body control, a soft touch and obviously a determined heart.”
Duke took a big early lead, withstood an Iowa State rally and led 41-33 at halftime.
Three Iowa State misses and a turnover in the first 2:17 helped the Blue Devils roll out to a 9-0 lead behind two baskets from Lance Thomas.
Scheyer’s 3-pointer from the corner made it 12-2 and the Cyclones appeared rattled early in their first-ever game at the United Center, missing seven of their first eight shots while Duke started 5 of 7. Scheyer hit two free throws after a timeout and it was 14-2 less than 5 minutes into the game.
“The way we started the game and the way we started the second half, you can’t compete against any team, let alone a team as talented as Duke,” Iowa State coach Greg McDermott said. “Obviously Duke was pressuring us and we expected that pressure, but a lot of the turnovers were self-inflicted.”
Iowa State found its poise and ran off 11 straight points as Garrett hit two driving shots and Brackins scored inside, cutting the lead quickly to one point.
Smith’s 3-pointer, an emphatic dunk from Mason Plumlee and a driving bank shot from Scheyer helped the Blue Devils rebuild their lead and they went up by 13 with just under a minute to go.
But Gilstrap hit a 3-pointer from about 10 feet behind the NBA line as the buzzer sounded, clipping Duke’s lead to 41-33. The Cyclones gave up 14 offensive rebounds in the first half and stayed close by shooting 42 percent while Duke made only 37.5 percent.
With Chicago native Krzyzewski as their coach, the Blue Devils are 7-0 at the United Center.
It was Iowa State’s third game this season in Chicago. The Cyclones were 1-1 in the Chicago Invitational Challenge in late November, losing in the finals to Northwestern.