Duke's Amile Jefferson, center, grabs a rebound as Utah State's Grayson Moore (32) and Quinn Taylor (22) defend during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Durham, N.C., Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Gerry Broome
November 29, 2015

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) Luke Kennard stayed confident as he wrestled with his shot to start his Duke career. He put up plenty of extra shots after practice. He talked with coaches, who promised ''it'll come.''

He started connecting Sunday, playing with an assertive productivity that thrilled his Hall of Fame coach.

Kennard had the best game of his young career, scoring 22 points to help No. 6 Duke beat Utah State 85-52.

''Shooters, they can have off nights,'' Kennard said. ''I had a few in a row just to start the season. We're going to build off of what we did today, keep working hard and we'll see how it goes.''

Grayson Allen also scored 22 points for the Blue Devils (6-1), who won their fourth straight game since losing to Kentucky. Duke ran off the first 16 points of the second half and shot 64 percent after the break, turning an 11-point halftime lead into a blowout margin against the Aggies (4-1).

Kennard, a 6-foot-5 guard from Franklin, Ohio, had been shooting 33 percent from the floor and 4 for 23 (17 percent) from behind the arc.

But he went 4 for 5 from the field to match his previous season high of 12 by halftime. That included a shot in the lane while drawing a foul right before a timeout, prompting coach Mike Krzyzewski to greet him at the bench with an excited message.

''He said, `There you go, that's what we want,''' Kennard said. ''I could tell, when I looked at him in the eyes, he was very excited about how I was playing, how I was attacking, the energy that I brought to the floor.

''I just knew then that's what I need to do every game,'' he said.

He finished 7 for 9 from the field and made 4 of 5 3-pointers in 26 minutes.

''It's just shooting at the speed that he's going to need to in this competition,'' Krzyzewski said. ''You're not in the right lane anymore. You're in the left lane. But he's worked at it, and (assistant Jon Scheyer) has worked real hard with him on it.''

Chris Smith scored 13 points to lead the Aggies, who shot 29 percent after halftime as Duke took over.

''I thought we were extremely selfish offensively and soft defensively, and (it was) just a performance not to be proud of,'' Utah State coach Tim Duryea said. ''I didn't think there was one redeeming quality about our performance.''

TIP-INS

Utah State: Jalen Moore came in averaging 13.3 points, but finished with eight on 3-for-10 shooting. ... Utah State made 3 of 12 3-pointers. ... Utah State had outrebounded its first four opponents but finished with a 40-26 deficit Sunday.

Duke: Amile Jefferson had 13 points and nine rebounds. ... Freshman Derryck Thornton had a rough day, scoring two points on 1-for-9 shooting and missing a breakaway dunk. ... Duke had 20 points off turnovers and 12 second-chance points. ... Duke pushed its NCAA-best home nonconference winning streak to 120 games, a streak that started in November 2000.

ALLEN'S DAY

Allen, the Atlantic Coast Conference's leading scorer at 22.7 points per game, repeatedly got into the lane and hit two 3s to go with five rebounds. He also drew two offensive fouls on Moore.

FINISHING BLOW

Allen got into the lane for a score and burying a 3 during Duke's 16-0 run to open the second half. Freshman Brandon Ingram's two free throws capped the spurt, which turned a 38-27 edge into a 54-27 lead with 15:31 to play.

UP NEXT

Utah State travels to Missouri State on Tuesday.

Duke hosts No. 13 Indiana in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Tuesday.

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Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap and the AP's college basketball site at http://collegebasketball.ap.org

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