Duke entered the Champions Classic with loads of promise, and exited with the expectations even higher.
The fourth-ranked Blue Devils can now expect every opponent to treat them as legitimate title contenders, starting Friday night with Temple in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic in Brooklyn.
Duke dispatched No. 19 Michigan State 81-71 in Indianapolis on Tuesday, answering questions surrounding its new-look roster. It was the Blue Devils' first big test after wins over Presbyterian and Fairfield by a 222-103 margin.
Senior Quinn Cook had 19 points and six assists against the Spartans, while freshmen Tyus Jones (17) and Justise Williams (15) also scored in double figures.
"I really thought the play of Quinn, his leadership throughout the game, was a huge factor for us," coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "Quinn's presence was really, really big for us. He and Tyus have developed a great relationship, then Tyus took off in the second half."
Another freshman also shined as preseason All-American Jahlil Okafor scored 17 points on 8-of-10 shooting. Okafor leads the Blue Devils with 17.7 points per game to go along with 6.7 rebounds, and he's shooting 83.3 percent (25 for 30).
Okafor's performance in his first meaningful game, coupled with the excitement surrounding him since his days as a top high school recruit in Chicago, has created a buzz in the early going.
Krzyzewski, however, is not ready to crown him the next big thing.
"He's not iconic yet," Krzyzewski said. "You have to win."
Cook, the only scholarship senior on the roster, liked what he saw from the first-year players.
"Our first big-time game in a big-time atmosphere. With all the things going on today surrounding the event, it can be easy to get distracted," Cook said. "We didn't.
"I was extremely happy with the three freshmen. For it to be their first big- time game, to play like that, that just says wonders about those guys. We got to move on and get ready for Temple on Friday."
Temple (2-0) also enters following a win, downing Louisiana Tech - which had received votes in the most recent AP poll - 82-75 on Monday behind guards Will Cummings and Quenton DeCosey.
They scored 20 points apiece and combined for 14 rebounds, four assists and five steals.
"It's a big stage," Cummings said of playing Duke. "You have to be prepared in all aspects. Defensively, offensively, because you know they're going to come ready to play."
The Owls are shooting 33.3 percent, but they've held opponents to 36.8 percent and 56.0 points per game. Duke is shooting 60.2 percent.
"They're basically a team without any weaknesses, and then they have a terrific mentality on the defensive end as well," coach Fran Dunphy said of Duke. "They're angry when you score against them. They take it very personally.
"We need to do everything we need to do a little better than we've ever done."
This will be the schools' 12th meeting since 1999, with Duke winning 10 of the previous 11. The Blue Devils won 90-67 in the most recent matchup in 2012, rebounding from a 78-73 loss at Temple the previous season when they were No. 5 in the nation.
The winner will face Stanford or UNLV in the championship game Saturday.