DURHAM, North Carolina (Ticker) -- Duke may hold the No. 1 ranking, but it still has a long way to go to prove itself.
Freshman J.J. Redick scored a season-high 26 points as the Blue Devils nearly blew a 23-point lead before posting an 85-74 victory over Dayton.
"This game was a good experience for our basketball team," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "I thought in the first 20 minutes we played as hard and as well defensively as we've played all year. I knew Dayton was going to come back. We should have been up by a little bit more. Younger teams feel game pressure more than older teams. It couldn't have been a better game for us."
Duke (7-0) never trailed as it jumped out to a 10-1 lead and built a 42-25 cushion at halftime. The lead grew to as many as 23 points and was still 63-41 after a basket by Casey Sanders with 13 1/2 minutes remaining.
Dayton (7-3) responded with an 11-2 run to get within 64-52. The Flyers continued to cut into the lead and pulled to 73-67 on Ramod Marshall's runner with just under four minutes left.
The teams traded baskets before Redick and Chris Duhon each split a pair at the line to make it 77-69. Duhon came up with a steal and a dunk for a 10-point advantage with just over two minutes remaining.
"A lot of people look at the schedule and see Dayton as a blowout, but those guys are really good," Duhon said. "Those guys will probably win their conference, and they're an NCAA (Tournament) team that can easily upset anybody. That's why we schedule them - they're a very veteran team and they played hard".
Once again, the Blue Devils enjoyed a major advantage at the free-throw line. They converted 24-of-37 attempts in comparison to a 14-of-24 showing for Dayton.
Duke has shot more foul shots than all seven opponents it has faced and has at least 30 attempts in six games this season. That trend has continued despite the fact that the Blue Devils have lost three starters to the NBA and feature six freshmen.
Redick had a terrific shooting night to pace Duke, making 8-of-10 shots and 5-of-7 from beyond the arc. The Cave Springs, Virginia native had struggled from beyond the arc in his last two games, making only 3-of-13.
"J.J. was outstanding," Krzyzewski said. "He hit big buckets (and) free throws. We tried to put him in a position where he was the guy getting fouled when they were trying to press us."
Sanders had a productive night with 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting, taking advantage of the opportunity to fill Duke's inside void. Dahntay Jones finished with 15 points off the bench.
The Blue Devils have won 17 straight home games since a loss to Maryland in Senior Day in 2001.
Dayton may have experienced nerves due to playing to Cameron Indoor Stadium for the first time with five turnovers in the first five minutes. The Flyers shot just 33 percent (10-of-30) in the first half, including a woeful 2-of-15 from beyond the arc.
"The beginning of the game obviously was a key point for us where we turned the ball over some and struggled to score against a tremendous defense," Dayton coach Oliver Purnell said. "But even after that, the most critical part of the game was at the end of the first half. We had a chance to go in (at halftime) under double figures, but we went in down 17, which is a big hole to climb back from."
The Blue Devils' backcourt of Duhon and Daniel Ewing combined to make just 3-of-15 shots. Fortunately for them, they were still able to get to the line 16 times, converting 11.