College hoops: Duke 80, St. John’s 71
By Joedy McCreary
DURHAM ó Hardly anything fell for Kyle Singler ó until Duke’s blowout became a close game again.
Singler scored 10 of his 17 points in the second half, and the sixth-ranked Blue Devils bounced back from their first loss by beating St. John’s 80-71 on Saturday.
Nolan Smith added 16 points, Jon Scheyer added 15 on 4-of-14 shooting and Duke (7-1) had enough big bodies to clean up those misses, outrebounding the Red Storm 41-31. That helped the Blue Devils score 17 straight points in the first half, then produce another big run in the second and claim their NCAA-record 73rd straight nonconference victory at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
“We’re going to miss shots, but we don’t really want to focus too much on that, just because we know we’ve got guys that can rebound the ball,” Singler said. “One of the reasons why we had such a big lead in the first half was our bigs did such a great job rebounding our misses and getting them back in the basket.”
D.J. Kennedy scored 18 points ó all in the second half ó to lead the Red Storm (6-1).
The last non-ACC team to beat the Blue Devils there made things interesting late, reeling off 10 straight points to cut Duke’s lead to 54-50 with about 10 minutes left.
Lance Thomas hit a jumper, Scheyer hit two free throws and Singler ó who was 3-for-15 shooting at that point ó hit a 3-pointer during a late 14-2 run.
“That’s like the guy who strikes out three times and pops up. In the bottom of the eighth, second and third, he gets a double,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “We have a lot of developing to do as a basketball team, but I like the fact that we step up in tough situations.”For the first time, Duke had the starting lineup Krzyzewski had planned in the preseason with 6-foot-10 freshman Mason Plumlee making his first start after missing the first six games with a broken wrist. He made his debut in the Wisconsin game.
A pair of veterans ó Thomas and Brian Zoubek ó came off the bench and wound up making a big difference, scoring 11 points apiece and combining for 15 rebounds.
“The story was Lance and Brian,” Krzyzewski said. “They’ve been in the fight before.”Zoubek had his second double-figure performance of the season.
“We’ve definitely started to count on our bigs more,” Smith said, “and they’re ready to play.”