St. John's Hangs Tough, But Falls To No. 6/5 Duke, 80-71

Dec. 5, 2009

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DURHAM, N.C. (AP) -- Kyle Singler scored 10 of his 17 points in the second half, and No. 6 Duke bounced back from its first loss by beating St. John's 80-71 on Saturday.

Nolan Smith added 16 points for the Blue Devils (7-1). They scored 17 straight points in the first half, then used a big run in the second to claim their NCAA-record 73rd straight nonconference victory at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

D.J. Kennedy scored 18 points to lead the Red Storm (6-1). The last non-ACC team to beat the Blue Devils there made things interesting late, reeling off 10 straight points to cut Duke's lead to 54-50 on Dwight Hardy's layup with about 10 minutes left.

But Lance Thomas hit a jumper, Jon Scheyer hit two free throws and Singler-- who was 3-for-15 shooting at that point--hit a 3-pointer during the late 14-2 run that put them back in control.

Singler got hot just in time for Duke, scoring seven points during that spurt. Three days earlier, he had a career-high 28 in a 73-69 loss to Wisconsin, the Blue Devils' first in 11 Big Ten-ACC Challenge games. They responded by winning their seventh straight in their series with St. John's.

Scheyer finished with 15 points on 4-of-14 shooting.

Sean Evans had a season-high 17 points while Kennedy led the Red Storm in scoring for the sixth time this season. St. John's, playing its first game against a power-conference team, shot 50.9 percent but lost its 26th straight on a Top 25 team's home floor.

Plenty of the Blue Devils' streaks remained alive, too. They claimed their 33rd straight home victory against unranked opponents while winning their 46th consecutive home game in December, a string that dates back to 1996.

For the first time, Duke had the starting lineup coach Mike Krzyzewski had planned in the preseason with 6-foot-10 freshman Mason Plumlee making his first start after missing the first six games with a broken wrist and making his debut in the Wisconsin game.

But a pair of veterans--Thomas and Zoubek--came off the bench and wound up making a big difference in this one, scoring 11 points apiece.

Zoubek had just his second double-figure performance of the season while Thomas turned in a pair of impressive individual efforts early, knocking down a a baseline jumper and then drawing a charge to spark the Cameron crowd.

Duke took the lead for good by outscoring St. John's 31-9 during a 10 1/2 -minute stretch of the first, with Thomas' three-point play at the 12 1/2 -minute mark putting the Blue Devils ahead to stay.

Smith gave Duke its first double-figure lead with the second of his 3s on consecutive trips downcourt with 9 minutes left, and 90 seconds later, Singler ended the run by following a missed 3 with a layup that made it 31-15.

St. John's lost one of its starters on the first shot of the game. Team officials said Justin Burrell sprained his right ankle when he landed on a Duke player's foot after his short jumper gave the Red Storm a 2-0 lead roughly 25 seconds in.




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