You can normally tell the magnitude of a game at Duke by how fired up head coach Mike Krzyzewski is, especially when it comes to pumping up the Cameron Crazies. Coming off of a sound defeat at the hands of Georgetown, the Blue Devils needed to respond against a team that had knocked them off earlier in the season and they did just that. In the 83-65 win Kyle Singler hit eight three pointers in scoring 30 points while also grabbing five rebounds, and as a team Duke shot 66.7% (12-18) from behind the arc. Jon Scheyer added 21 points and Duke outrebounded a Georgia Tech team hit by foul trouble 40-32 on the night.
"I thought we handled the ball well and held our own on the boards," said Coach Krzyzewski. "We outrebounded them by a little bit. Lance [Thomas] played a great game...defensively and getting 11 rebounds was outstanding (quotes courtesy of Duke Sports Information)."
The Blue Devil starters outscored Georgia Tech's starting five 73-28, and while the foul trouble that hit Gani Lawal and Derrick Favors early had something to do with that, Duke's ability to dictate the flow of the game made the visitors pay dearly. And most importantly, the man that some felt before the season began was a viable All-America candidate, put together a virtuoso performance when his team needed it most. If Singler can use his play on Thursday as a springboard to outstanding play through the remainder of ACC play the Blue Devils will likely see themselves atop the ACC standings.
Singler benefited from Coach K's decision to involve more motion in the Blue Devils' offensive sets, which allowed him to find more open looks without having to do so much with the ball in his hands. "The motion was something that we thought would be really good, to get Kyle [Singler] moving better and he responded," remarked Krzyzewski. Look for more motion from Duke as the season wears on given its positive impact on Thursday night.
Three Key Happenings
1. One of the four teams tied for first place in the Pac-10: UCLA. When the Bruins were dropping games a program of their caliber is never expected to lose it would have been unfathomable to think that at this point in the year Ben Howland's team would be in the Pac-10 race. But they've gone from man to a zone defense, and the play of youngsters such as Reeves Nelson and Tyler Honeycutt have made the Bruins a better basketball team. Thanks to Arizona and California losing the Bruins and Arizona State moved into a tie with those two for first place in the conference with the Golden Bears visiting Pauley on Saturday.
Four Bruins reached double figures on Thursday night with Nelson leading the way with 18 points off the bench. By comparison, Landry Fields and Jeremy Green scored 53 of Stanford's 73 points while their bench failed to score a point. The formula for the Bruins: guys sharing the wealth since they lack a go-to guy who can create his own looks. And once they realized exactly what they needed to get done the Bruins have become a tough out in the Pac-10.
2. Virginia Tech picks up a win that they couldn't afford to give away. Sad to say but this season there's more to be lost in losing to North Carolina than there is to be gained in beating the young Tar Heels. And Virginia Tech made the key plays late in winning 74-70 to move to 4-3 in ACC play. Malcolm Delaney scored 14 of his 21 points in the second half, including a pair of free throws with 36.6 seconds remaining while Dorenzo Hudson added seventeen.
Seth Greenberg's team didn't shoot well from the field, making just 38.6% of their shots, but they did force nineteen Carolina turnovers on the night (scoring seventeen points off of turnovers). The Hokies also scored 34 points in the paint, outscoring the Tar Heels in an area that Carolina normally dominates. Sometimes a big win can come in the way of simply avoiding a damaging loss, and that's exactly what Coach Greenberg's team got done on Thursday.
3. Notre Dame wins what could be an "elimination game" come March. Come Selection Sunday head-to-head meetings can be pointed to when looking for reasons why one team was left out of the NCAA Tournament while another was among the last teams in. And for the second consecutive season the use of morning practices has paid off for Mike Brey as Notre Dame soundly defeated Cincinnati 83-65 at Purcell Pavilion. Luke Harangody scored 37 points and grabbed 14 rebounds while Tim Abromaitis added 22 as the Irish shot 47.5% from the field.
Larry Davis led the Bearcats with 12 points off the bench but their lack of an answer defensively for Harangody and Abromaitis proved costly. Notre Dame also did an outstanding job of sharing the basketball, assisting on 25 of their 29 baskets. Can the Irish keep the momentum rolling? If they want to avoid future early wake-up calls and retain hopes of making the Big Dance it would be a good idea to do so.
Top Three Games
1. Arkansas-Little Rock 79, Arkansas State 77 A 30-foot runner from Alex Garcia-Mendoza at the buzzer gave the Trojans the win in Little Rock. Solomon Bozeman led the winners with 20 points while the Red Wolves had Brandon Reed and Martavius Adams score 17 points apiece.
2. Maryland 71, Florida State 67 Greivis Vasquez scored 23 points in leading the Terrapins to the win in Tallahassee. Maryland outscored the Seminoles 18-7 in the first 5:21 of the second half to take the lead, and Derwin Kitchen led the Seminoles with a game-high 29 points.
3. San Francisco 72, San Diego 70 Michael Williams scored seven points in the final 12.4 seconds of overtime to lead the Dons to the win. Dior Lowhorn led all scorers with 26 points while Brandon Johnson led the Toreros with 25.
Three Notable Performances
1. F Quincy Pondexter (Washington) 30 points, 12 rebounds in the Huskies' 81-75 win over Arizona in Seattle.
2. F Luke Harangody (Notre Dame) 37 points, 14 rebounds in the Fighting Irish's 83-65 win over Cincinnati.
3. F Landry Fields (Stanford) 35 points, 10 rebounds in the Cardinal's 77-73 loss at UCLA.