College Basketball: Duke 71, Michigan 56
By Dave Skretta
NEW YORK ó Mike Krzyzewski roused the Duke Blue Devils on Friday and headed for Madison Square Garden, long before they were set to play Michigan in the 2K Sports Classic.
The reason was simple: Even though Duke practices against a variety of defenses every day, rarely do they see the confounding 1-3-1 zone that Wolverines coach John Beilein so relishes.
The extra hour of work certainly paid off.
Nolan Smith scored 16 points, Kyle Singler had 15 and the No. 10 Blue Devils coasted to a 71-56 victory over the surprising Wolverines in the championship game Friday night.
“Preparation with this team is huge,” said Singler, who also had eight rebounds, four assists and was the tournament MVP. “We just put that game plan to use on the court ó play hard and execute as much as possible.”
Gerald Henderson added 12 points for the Blue Devils, who won their four games in the 2K Sports Classic by an average of 28.5 points. Duke has won seven straight in-season tournament games after sweeping through the Maui Invitational last season.
Manny Harris scored 25 points to lead Michigan (3-1), which will get another crack at the Blue Devils (5-0) when they visit Ann Arbor on Dec. 6. DeShawn Sims added 10 points off the bench.
“I wish we would have made some shots earlier and we’d have made a better game of it,” Beilein said. “We have a couple guys in a funk and we have to get them out of it. When we do that, I think you will see a better team than what you saw in the second half.”
In the consolation game earlier in the night, Alfred Aboya and Darren Collison led No. 4 UCLA to a 77-60 victory over Southern Illinois.
Singler struggled early in the Blue Devils’ semifinal win over Southern Illinois, scoring all 13 of his points in the second half. But he was on target early in this one, going 5-for-8 from the field and playing everything from the post to shooting guard.
“He’s one of the best players in the country,” Krzyzewski said.
The game figured to hinge on Michigan’s ability to slow down Duke’s high-flying offense with that plodding, grind-it-out zone defense.
It worked for at least a few minutes, until Smith and freshman Elliot Williams combined for eight straight points and gave Duke a 25-15 lead. The Wolverines eventually switched to a man-to-man defense, but it only kept the game close for a while.
The Blue Devils pushed the advantage to 47-33 on a basket by Lance Thomas a few minutes into the second half. Harris tried vainly to keep the Wolverines in it, hitting a 3-pointer and dunking on a break, but Jon Scheyer made three free throws moments later and Singler hit a pull-up 3 from the wing to push the lead back to 15.
Michigan never managed to get much closer than that, the veteran Blue Devils using deft passing and gritty inside play to keep the young Wolverines at bay.
“Give them credit,” Beilein said. “They are no slouches defensively. They are a good team and they showed it last night and the whole tournament.”
Still, Beilein has plenty of reasons to be proud of his team. After struggling to a 10-22 finish in his first season in Ann Arbor, the Wolverines toppled the Bruins in the tournament semifinals and gave the Blue Devils a tussle before finally succumbing.
The performance Friday night was all the more impressive considering the setting.
Duke has won 14 straight in November and improved to 108-16 in the season’s first month, including 94-10 under Krzyzewski. His teams are 17-6 at the Garden, where another heavily pro-Duke crowd showed up in droves to see the title game of the tournament benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer.
“I don’t think we were in a position to be upset. I thought we played well out here,” Krzyzewski said. “You can’t allow a team to be in a position to win and we are playing not to lose. That is the attitude we have tried to have on our teams all along.”
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico ó Dante Jackson’s buzzer-beater from beyond halfcourt lifted Xavier to a 63-62 win over Virginia Tech in overtime at the O’Reilly Auto Parts Puerto Rico Tip Off on Friday.
Jeff Allen led the Hokies (3-1) with 22 points and 11 rebounds.
No. 2 UConn 89, LaSalle 81
CHARLOTTE AMALIE, U.S. Virgin Islands ó Kemba Walker scored 23 points and Jeff Adrien added 22 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to lead No. 2 Connecticut to a hard-fought 89-81 victory.
No. 4 UCLA 77, Southern Illinois 60
NEW YORK ó Alfred Aboya scored 22 points and Darren Collison had 17, helping the Bruins rebound from a disheartening loss to beat Southern Illinois in the consolation game of the 2K Sports Classic.
No. 6 Pittsburgh 86, Akron 67
PITTSBURGH ó Sam Young gave Akron problems no matter where he was on the floor, scoring 26 points and taking control during a Pittsburgh surge late in the first half that carried the Panthers.
No. 13 Memphis 84, Seton Hall 70
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico ó Doneal Mack scored 16 points to lead Memphis over Seton Hall in the semifinals of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.
No. 14 Tennessee 76, Middle Tennessee 66
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. ó Tyler Smith scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and Tennessee beat Middle Tennessee.
No. 17 Miami 70, Southern Miss 60
CHARLOTTE AMALIE, U.S. Virgin Islands ó Dwayne Collins scored 14 points to lead Miami (2-0) over Southern Mississippi in the Paradise Jam opener.
No. 19 Southern Cal 73, Chattanooga 46
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico ó Taj Gibson scored 17 points to lead Southern Cal over Chattanooga in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.