Four games into his college career, Duke super freshman Jahlil Okafor got a lesson in the tough, physical, inside game of basketball, and learned a little.
Okafor had 16 points and eight rebounds in his introduction to the rough-and-tumble world of New York City basketball, and No. 4 Duke overcame an off night from the field in coasting to a 74-54 victory over Temple in the semifinals of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic on Friday night.
"This is baskeball," Okafor said after the Blue Devils (4-0) advanced to a championship game against Stanford (3-0). "I like playing physical. I guess I am used to it."
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said Okafor needs to learn how to adjust when teams get physical, both in college and later in the pros.
"Ja has to be ready for that," Krzyzewski said. "He's an outstanding player. He's going to be a terrific player. He had 20 shots tonight. I'd love to get him 20 shots (a game). He has to sell his stuff if he misses. Temple did a really good job against him."
The win will set up a title game at the Barclays Center between Krzyzewski and Johnny Dawkins, his first major recruit and now the Stanford coach.
The Cardinal defeated UNLV 89-60 in the opener.
"First of all, I'm proud of Johnny. They're an outstanding team," Krzyzewski said. "They're big, they're huge. Johnny has a really good system, how he uses them. I'd rather not play him. He's part of our family. It's too bad we have to play one another, that's the way it is."
Quinn Cook had 18 points and freshman Justise Winslow added 15 for the Blue Devils, who shot 31 percent from the field in the first half before warming up a little in the second on a cold, chilly night in the Big Apple. Freshman point guard Tyus Jones added seven assists on a night Duke shot 39 percent from the field.
The Blue Devils made up for their poor shooting, forcing 17 turnovers while holding Temple to 37 percent shooting from the field, including 1 of 12 from long range.
"It was a little bit of them being as good as they are defensively and a little bit of us losing focus," Temple coach Fran Dunphy said. "They're pretty good at what they do."
Will Cummings had 18 points for Temple (2-1), whose scrappy defense frustrated Duke, which more than a few times looked at the officials for a little help.
The crew didn't listen and the game was played like an old Big East Conference game, with lots of pushing and contact in the paint that didn't get many whistles.
Okafor, the 6-foot-11 LeBron James-like talent, struggled early, hitting 3 of 13 shots from the field in the first half. He adjusted better in the final 20 minutes, making 4 of 7, including one impressive move where he faked Devontae Watson to the right of the basket and blew past him for a lay-in.
The Chicago native also thrilled the pro-Duke crowd diving into press row to try to save a ball, laughing as he ran over photographers and crashed into the press table.
Okafor hit two free throws late in the opening half to ignite a 7-0 run that helped Duke open a 10-point lead. He also had six points in a 19-7 second-half spurt that blew the game open.
Duke: The Blue Devils had shot better than 50 percent in their first three games and ranked fourth in the nation with a .602 field goal percentage.
Temple: Junior guard Quenton DeCosey got a technical foul a little more than five minutes into the game for throwing a ball at Cook after being fouled.
K AND 1000: Krzyzewski is now 13 wins away from 1,000 in his career.
BARCLAYS CENTER: The crown was announced at 10,135 — most of them Duke fans. The top sections of the arena, the home of the Nets, was not open for seating, taking away about 8,000 seats.
Duke: plays Stanford on Saturday in the second game at the Barclays Center.
Temple faces UNLV in the opener at 7 p.m. EST.