College basketball: Duke 73, Temple 55

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 2, 2007

By Bret Strelow

Salisbury Post

DURHAM — DeMarcus Nelson caught the no-look, over-the-shoulder pass in stride and threw home a fastbreak dunk during Duke’s 73-55 victory against Temple.

He scored a layup off a behind-the-back pass two possessions later.

“They were both two great plays coming from two good passers,” Nelson said.

The first feed came from starting point guard Greg Paulus. Fellow sophomore Josh McRoberts, a 6-foot-10 forward, found Nelson the next time.

McRoberts’ all-around play led the fifth-ranked Blue Devils (13-1) past visiting Temple (6-6) on Tuesday night. He scored a career-high 21 points, grabbed nine rebounds, tied for the team lead with four assists and blocked four shots.

“Josh is becoming as unique a player as there is in the country,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “He’s playing with great passion, and he’s a real presence. I’m really proud of where he’s at now, and he can take a few more steps. He’s still very much a developing player.”

McRoberts’ previous high of 19 points came against Kent State two weeks ago, and he posted double-doubles in wins against Gonzaga and San Jose State. He scored 12 of Duke’s first 19 points against Temple two days after enjoying a 15-point, 17-rebound performance.

McRoberts and Paulus entered the Temple game as the only Duke players with more assists than turnovers, and McRoberts increased his team-leading assist total to 59.

“He’s like a point guard on stilts,” Krzyzewski said. “He has a different vision, so he sees more.”

McRoberts’ strong start coincided with an early comeback.

Temple led 16-4 after 41/2 minutes but scored 12 points the rest of the half. McRoberts picked up his second foul with 4:17 left in the period, and the Blue Devils used a 7-0 run in the final two minutes to break free from a 28-all tie.

Duke had outscored its opponents by a total of only six points in the first half of its last six games, but a layup and 3-pointer from Paulus created some breathing room against the Owls.

“Greg’s 3-pointer in the last forty seconds was probably the big shot in the game,” Krzyzewski said. “Our rebounding was also a big factor.”

Former Statesville-area standout Dion Dacons led Temple with nine boards, but the Blue Devils finished with a 49-28 rebounding advantage.

Nelson collected a career-high 11 rebounds to go along with 14 points, and David McClure had a career-high 12 rebounds in his first start of the season. Brian Zoubek scored all eight of his points and grabbed five of his six boards in 10 first-half minutes.

The two highlight-reel plays involving Nelson occurred during a 14-4 run that pushed Duke ahead 61-43 with about six minutes remaining.

McRoberts followed Paulus’ flashy assist with a 3-pointer, then whipped a baseline pass with his right hand as he posted up on the left block.

“It’s just a normal pass,” McRoberts said. “It’s just a different way to throw it.”

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Contact Bret Strelow at 704-797-4258 or bstrelow@salisburypost.com.

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