Duke 84, Long Beach State 63
By Joedy McCreary
DURHAM ó Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith hit big 3-pointers, and Smith even blocked one. Thanks to its two talented guards, No. 7 Duke once again put itself in some good company.
Scheyer scored 22 points, Smith added 19 and the Blue Devils became the latest top 10 team to beat Long Beach State, routing the 49ers 84-63 on Tuesday night.
Kyle Singler added 14 points for Duke (10-1). It blocked a season-high 10 shots and was 15 of 26 from 3-point range.
“I don’t even think we shot as well as we could, with the amount of good looks that we had,” Scheyer said. “We’ll be successful in the offense when we take open looks.”
Senior big men Lance Thomas and Brian Zoubek had 10 points apiece for Duke, which showed little rust from the nine-day holiday layoff.
“Guys over the break, nobody took any days off,” Smith said. “Everybody stayed in shape, stayed sharp with their shooting or whatever they were doing.”
Scheyer, who had his third straight 20-point game, and Smith were a combined 15 of 32 from the field with 10 3s, 14 assists and no turnovers.
According to one unofficial online replication of the RPI formula, the 49ers have played the nation’s toughest schedule. They previously lost to No. 2 Texas, No. 3 Kentucky and No. 6 West Virginia by an average of 23 points and failed to keep it closer than 13 against any of them.
“I think (Duke is) every bit as good, but that’s what everybody asks me when you’re going on this Washington Generals tour,” Long Beach State coach Dan Monson said. “Everybody knows that none of these teams are good enough to win a national championship right now. … It’s all a matter of who keeps improving in the next two months because they all have the ability to do it.”
Duke built a 27-9 lead with a burst highlighted by two 3s from Scheyer and an impressive display of athleticism from Smith ó who blocked Casper Ware’s 3-pointer before hustling downcourt to take a pretty feed from Singler and hit a layup.
That was just one in a bonanza of blocks for Duke. With five minutes left before the break, Long Beach State had more shots blocked (seven) than made (five).
“You’ve always got to start with defense, and the offense will come,” Smith said. “But it started with defense. It sets a tone.”