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Duke Knocks Off Virginia, 56-41 (New Links)

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You couldn't call it a beautiful game or anything, except maybe defensively, but beauty point don't count in the standings and so Duke moves to 24-2 overall, 11-1 in the conference, Nolan Smith is one game closer to being the ACC Player of the Year and Coach K is within 10 games of tying Bob Knight for the all-time wins record.

It was a miserable night for Kyle Singler, who picked up four fouls and scored just two points in 23 minutes.

However, for Smith, it was another solid game for the presumptive ACC Player of the Year.

On a night when Duke managed just 56 points overall, Smith scored 22.

Not surprisingly, largely due to Virginia's lack of size inside, Mason Plumlee was 4-5 from the floor while Ryan Kelly was 5-7.

This was compounded by Assane Sene's four fouls in 23 minutes.

It could however been a more interesting game.  Virginia hit just 16 shots and scored just 15 points in the entire second half.

But if they had hit just four more three-point shots, it would had been a four point game.

Toss in Singler's wretched offensive game and foul trouble, and a close game late might have favored Virginia.

Truth is, they probably did their best, but with no big men and a very young team, the gap between Virginia and Duke is considerable.

That's not to confuse them with Wake Forest however, where the coach has repeatedly have problems persuading his players to do what he asked him to do. Virginia, as Krzyzewski noted after the game, is very well coached. They are just short on talent right now. However, there are some bright spots.

Jontel Evans has carved out a nice niche with his defense, and Joe Harris is developing into a latter-day Jerry Sloan. Virginia fans will love him.  Perhaps a better way to put it is that he is Lee Raker with Jeff Lamp's jumpshot.

KT Harrell will also become a solid player.

Next year, when they get Mike Scott back presumably healthy, and the younger players have a year of experience under their belt, and a few more players more to Tony Bennett's liking the perhaps Dave Leitao's, things will start to change.

For any Virginia fans who feel a sense of fatigue, we can tell you that it took a while for Coach K's system of ideas to take hold in Durham.

Bennett is a quality coach and a guy who has a lifetime of experience at a very young age.

So far, he's been dealt two lousy hands, but he's still shown he is a very capable coach.

We think he has a chance of being the ACC's next great one.

The defense is already pretty good. When they get some more size and offensive experience, beating Virginia is not going to be easy.

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