DURHAM, N.C. (AP)—The shots fell for Duke, from both inside and outside. And when they didn’t, the Blue Devils were in position to outmuscle the best rebounding team in the nation.
Now this is how Mike Krzyzewski’s team is supposed to begin its brutal conference schedule.
Behind 20 points from DeMarcus Nelson, No. 9 Duke cruised to an 87-65 victory against Virginia on Sunday night, perhaps the Blue Devils’ most complete victory of the season.
“This is the way we need to play,” guard Gerald Henderson said.
Henderson added 18 points and Kyle Singler scored 13 for the Blue Devils (13-1, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference). They shot better than 50 percent, never trailed, led by double figures for the entire second half, hit 11 3-pointers and shut down Virginia’s perimeter game.
“We knew that they were a 3-point shooting team, especially in transition,” Nelson said. “We felt they were going to take a lot of 3s, so our job was just to rebound those long misses when they did occur, and then push it, because we knew that their defensive balance was going to be bad (by) taking perimeter shots.”
Duke limited the Cavaliers, a 40 percent shooting team from long range, to just 4-of-14 shooting from beyond the arc and held a 35-34 advantage on the glass against a Virginia team that entered outrebounding its opponents by 12.4 per game.
Sean Singletary scored 18 points and Calvin Baker added 13 for Virginia (10-4, 0-1), which was denied its first victory at Cameron Indoor Stadium since a double-overtime victory in 1995. Its four-game winning streak against ranked teams also was snapped.
“They came out and imposed their will on us, and we didn’t have enough to play at a consistently high level throughout the game,” Singletary said. “They just kept giving us punches and punches, and sometimes we responded, and sometimes we didn’t.”
The Blue Devils turned to their strong perimeter game to build an early lead; the ACC’s second-best 3-point-shooting team hit 8-of-18 from long range in the first half. Then, when the Cavaliers clamped down on the outside game, Duke simply broke down Virginia’s defense off the dribble, repeatedly slicing its way to second-half layups and dunks.
“We really wanted to drive the ball hard like we were going to score,” said guard Jon Scheyer, who added 12 points. “If it wasn’t there, our kicks (to the guards) were always there. … Some guys hit them, and in the second half, they took them away (and) we were able to get some drives to the basket.”
Nelson was 3-of-4 from 3-point range and scored at least 20 points for the third time in five games for Duke, which has won 10 of 11 in the series.
Mamadi Diane added 11 points on 3-of-12 shooting for the Cavaliers, who turned it over 19 times.
“Our offense got back on its heels and (it was) about the first time that we’ve been pressured on the wings and denials like that,” Virginia coach Dave Leitao said. “We knew that it was coming, and it’s not a great way to have it happen to you. Not the first time, but it’s the most effective time.”
Duke took a permanent double-figure lead late on Taylor King’s 3 in the final minutes of the first half, and led by 20 with about 7 1/2 minutes left on Singler’s fastbreak dunk off a pretty feed from Greg Paulus.
Duke built a comfortable lead midway through the first half, using an 11-2 spurt to take their largest lead of the half. Nelson’s 3 from the corner made it 32-17 with about 6 minutes before the break.
After that, Virginia climbed within 10 only once—when Baker’s jumper pulled the Cavaliers to 38-29 at the 1:59 mark. King knocked down a 3 over Ryan Pettinella 16 seconds later to give the Blue Devils a double-figure lead to stay.
“I thought we did not have one guy who didn’t play hard and pretty well,” Krzyzewski said. “That’s really the first game that that’s happened.”