Duke's Amile Jefferson, center, sits on the bench with an injured foot during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Georgia Southern in Durham, N.C., Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Gerry Broome
December 15, 2015

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) No. 7 Duke won't have its best big man for a while. The Blue Devils do have freshman Brandon Ingram, and that was more than enough to beat Georgia Southern on Tuesday night.

Ingram had season highs of 26 points and 14 rebounds, leading Duke to a 99-65 victory over Georgia Southern.

Grayson Allen added 18 points, Matt Jones had 16 and Derryck Thornton finished with 15 for the Blue Devils (9-1) in their first game without high-energy forward Amile Jefferson.

''Everybody was asked to pick it up some,'' Ingram said. ''There was an opportunity out there to get more rebounds. ... We had to go after it.''

Coach Mike Krzyzewski said after the game that Jefferson, who averages a double-double, broke his right foot during practice and is out indefinitely, but does not need surgery.

''It's a huge period of adjustment for us,'' Krzyzewski said. ''You don't lose Amile and then, `OK, everything's good.' ... Amile was our best big guy.''

Playing for the first time in 10 days due to final exams, Duke wasn't always crisp but still had little trouble pulling away for its seventh straight win. The Blue Devils shot 57.6 percent in the second half and held a 55-29 rebounding advantage.

Tookie Brown scored 20 points and Mike Hughes added 14 for Georgia Southern (3-5), which has lost two straight and five of seven.

''When (Duke) missed it, they went and got it,'' Eagles coach Mark Byington said. ''I wish we would have battled a little bit more, but I was proud of our guys. I don't think they hesitated at all.''

For Duke, the priority in this one was figuring out the best way to play without Jefferson, who started the first nine games and averaged 11 points and 10 rebounds - including an ACC-best 4.8 on the offensive end.

''We'll have to keep the ship afloat while he's gone,'' Krzyzewski said.

The easy answer was to lean hard on Ingram and Marshall Plumlee, who finished with a career-best 11 rebounds.

Jefferson watched from the bench in sweats with a hard cast on his foot, and Duke replaced him in the starting lineup with Luke Kennard - a freshman making his first start - and shifted Ingram from small forward to Jefferson's power forward spot.

The Blue Devils led for all but about 30 seconds and began to pull away during the final minute of the first half. Jones hit a free throw with 32.2 seconds left before Chase Jeter grabbed his miss and Thornton hit a 3 from the corner just before the buzzer to put Duke up 47-32 at halftime.

Plumlee opened the second half with a stickback dunk, and Ingram followed with a steal and a fast-break dunk through contact. After Ingram swished a 3 two possessions later to make it a 20-point game, Duke was well on its way to another easy win.

STAT SHEET

Kennard had a rough beginning to his first start. He missed his first six shots, including four 3-pointers, before finally breaking through with a fast-break layup with 6 1/2 minutes left in the first half. He finished with 11 points on 4-of-13 shooting. Krzyzewski said his practices ''have been lights out'' but ''he hasn't translated that to the game.''

INJURY WATCH

Allen gave Duke's coaches and fans a brief scare when he took a shot to the face with about 15 minutes left. He was back with 12 1/2 minutes to play and hit a 3-pointer some 30 seconds after getting back into the game.

TIP-INS

Georgia Southern: The Eagles were playing a ranked team for the first time since 2008, when then-No. 8 Duke beat them 97-54. ... Georgia Southern was 0 for 4 from the free-throw line.

Duke: The trickle-down of Jefferson's absence led to more significant playing time for Jeter, a 6-foot-10 freshman who occupied the last spot in the seven-man rotation. He had two points while playing a season-high 17 minutes.

UP NEXT

Georgia Southern plays host to Winthrop on Saturday.

Duke plays Utah on Saturday in New York.

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Follow Joedy McCreary at http://twitter.com/joedyap. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/joedy-mccreary

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AP college basketball site: http://collegebasketball.ap.org

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