by Matt Saldaña
CAMERON INDOOR STADIUM/DURHAM – In their first game versus an ACC opponent this season, No. 2 Duke held Virginia Tech to 13 points in the second half, and came away with an impressive 25-point victory Sunday night. Today, the team advanced three spots in the national rankings, up from No. 5 last week.
Kyle Singler led the team in scoring, with his routine near-triple-double: 19 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists. Gerald Henderson was equally impressive as a passing swingman, scoring 15 points, dishing out 4 assists, and grabbing 8 boards. Emblematic of Duke's versatility was Singler standing at the top of the key, feeding starting point-guard Nolan Smith on the low-post for several nifty layups. The starting five looked comfortable, smiling often and communicating on the court as they steadily built the second-half lead. As promised, Coach K played former starting point guard Greg Paulus alongside Smith, his replacement, on several plays, and occassionally slotted shooting-guard Jon Scheyer to the three-spot against a small VT team. Even with three guards on the court, Duke succeeded in driving--and passing--inside.
Perhaps more impressive, Duke looked like a cohesive unit, even while rotating out three centers and two point guards. When starting center Brian Zoubek (6 points, 4 rebounds) missed a wide-open layup, on an excellent feed from Scheyer, both Paulus and Smith patted him on the back, and Smith held his neck with encouragement. Even Coach K joined in the body language of camaraderie, stepping onto the court and offering Paulus an emphatic high-five after he hit a crucial three late in the game (his only points).
Next up for the Blue Devils is Davidson, whose star player, Stephon Curry, Coach K said on Sunday may be the best college player in the country--and certainly the best guard. Depending on Curry's performance Wednesday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium, Duke may be gritting their teeth and smiling less. No doubt, it'll be an exciting match.