Kyle Singler had a sensational game against Temple, scoring 28 points in leading Duke to 70-61 win over the Owls.
Of note: he only took one three pointer in this game; nearly all of his points were scored in the lane.
This followed a discussion he had with the coaching staff where they recommended he try for higher percentage shots. Mission accomplished, and then some.
Singler's performance punctuated a generally solid game by Duke, although one featuring another slow start.
Partly this is because Temple is a very well coached team. When you see Fran Dunphy on the sidelines, he looks a bit like a rumpled, absent-minded professor, like a mild-mannered guy who is sort of bookish.Â Who knows, that might even be true.
What is indisputably true is that Temple, despite missing two starters, was fully prepared for Duke.Â In the first half, his well-drilled team scored repeatedly inside on Princeton-inflected cuts and screens.Â At other times, they had multiple offensive rebounds and for much of the game outworked Duke on the boards.Â They were also very adeptÂ at moving the ball quickly for open shots.
It took Duke a while to adjust defensively, and a key part of that was Tyler Thornton.Â As he has done several times this year, the freshman came in in the first half and was a real spark plug, not just on defense but offensively as well.
With both Nolan Smith and Seth Curry struggled in the first half, his effort was key.
Duke could finally build some momentum towardsÂ the end of the half by Curry's last-secondÂ three pointer.
The second half was something else.
Under Coach K, Duke often comes out in the second half with a much sharper focus, and this game was no exception. Within a minute and a half, Duke pushed the lead to double digits, forcing Dunphy to take a timeout at the 17:35 mark.
It didn't help much.Â Led by Singler, who had begun to penetrate pretty much at will, and Smith, who bounced back from a miserable first half with a stronger second performance, the Devils began to get out in transition.Â Toss in a powerfulÂ rebounding performance by Mason Plumlee and a much more intense defensive performance, and Temple's well-conceived game plan went for naught.Â Duke just ran by them.
Ryan Kelly also showed growth in this game, trying hard to drive to the basket, which is not something he's done a lot of during his career.Â If he can add that aspect his game, he will become that much more dangerous.
Coming up on Saturday of course his Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, and it's always a challenging trip. The Hokies are very physical and they are a very different team at homeÂ than they are on the road.Â Cassell can be as intimidating an arena as there is in the ACC.
After the game, Coach K had this to say about Saturday's game: "Teams that are in first place, second, even third place in a conference, face tremendous challenges during the last week and a half or so and the next two weeks because people are desperate â¦ or they create a desperate situation. I think thatâs a good thing for us to go into it to see how we can do in that because weâre not one and done. The teams we play the next couple games think they are. I donât know if they are. I think Virginia Tech would be in already. Iâm sure Seth [Greenberg]âs not telling them that. They have two of the best players in the conference. [Jeff] Allenâs playing so well and [Malcolm] Delaneyâs been a stud his whole time. Thatâll be a great game to play in for us, but we beat a team that is going to be an NCAA team and maybe an Atlantic 10 champion; theyâre very good."
Coach K is now just eight wins from tying Bob Knight for the all-time wins record... Mason Plumlee pulled down 13 rebounds for another solid performance on the boards...during the pregame, Kyrie Irving excited the crowd when he took a layup...he made it of course...Duke's last home court loss to a nonconference team was to St. John's in 2000...
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