No. 1 Duke wins 20th straight, 84-47 over St Louis
Duke's Nolan Smith, left, shoots over Saint Louis' Ellis Cody during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Durham, N.C., Saturday Dec. 11, 2010. (AP Photo/Lynn Hey) By LYNN HEY
Duke player Seth Curry , right, reaches in as Saint Louis's Paul Eckerle tries to hold on during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Durham, N.C., Saturday Dec. 11, 2010. (AP Photo/Lynn Hey) By LYNN HEY
Duke's Miles Plumlee, left, shoots over Saint Louis' Dwayne Evans during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Durham, N.C., Saturday Dec. 11, 2010. (AP Photo/Lynn Hey) By LYNN HEY
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) -- Nolan Smith scored 15 of his 22 points in the first half and No. 1 Duke routed Saint Louis 84-47 Saturday to claim its 20th straight win.
Kyle Singler added 21 points for the Blue Devils (10-0). They shot 53 percent, turned 22 turnovers into 31 points and took command with an overwhelming early run.
Mike Krzyzewski moved within one victory of North Carolina's Dean Smith for second place on the men's all-time wins list. Coach K has 878 career victories, and can tie his former longtime rival on Dec. 20 against Elon and pass him nine days later at North Carolina-Greensboro. The only man ahead of them is Krzyzewski's coach and mentor, Bob Knight, who has 902 wins.
Freshman Mike McCall scored 15 points for Saint Louis (3-4).
Freshman Josh Hairston had a season-high 12 points and Seth Curry added 11 points and three 3-pointers for the Blue Devils, who faced little resistance in extending a few of their winning streaks, including the overall one that includes last season's run to Krzyzewski's fourth NCAA championship. The reigning national champions won their 25th straight at Cameron Indoor Stadium and their 83rd in a row at home against nonconference opponents.
Smith regained the scoring touch that seemed to escape him last time out, when the Blue Devils played for the first time without injured point guard Kyrie Irving, who's out indefinitely after injuring a toe on his right foot last week against Butler. That left Smith as the primary ballhandler, and in a rout of Bradley, the senior co-captain finished with a career-best 10 assists but had just two points on 0-for-8 shooting.
He had no such shooting troubles this time. Smith was 8 of 13 and came up with the defining, highlight-reel play with about 8 1/2 minutes left in the first half. He came off a screen and, noticing that no defender picked him up, he swooped in unimpeded from the right wing and soared for a tomahawk dunk that made it 19-6 and brought the Cameron Crazies to their feet.
This was the Blue Devils' second game without Irving, the flashy freshman whose 17.4-point average leads the team, and he spent the afternoon on the bench with a hard cast on his foot. School officials say there's no timetable for his return, and Krzyzewski has said he hopes to learn more about Irving's status in the next week or so.
The good news for Duke is, they probably won't need him for a while -- at least, if an unofficial online replication of the RPI formula is any guide.
Saint Louis was at No. 264 according to one RPI-simulating website, and in their two remaining games this month Elon is No. 267 and UNC Greensboro is No. 295.
The Blue Devils turned the first half of this one into what seemed like one 20-minute-long run. Duke outscored the Billikens 25-4 during a stretch of nearly 11 minutes and allowed only two field goals in a span of roughly 13 minutes.
Singler pushed the Blue Devils' lead into the 20s with a 3-pointer that made it 26-6 with 6:45 before the break, and Smith's three-point play with 6.5 seconds left stretched it to 40-16, Duke's largest halftime lead of the season.
By then, the Billikens were well on their way to falling to 4-31 against ranked teams during the past decade and 0-12 in nonconference road games under Rick Majerus. They had twice as many turnovers (14) as field goals (seven) in the half.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)