Blue Devils top the Owls

Published 12:29 am Wednesday, January 3, 2007

By By AARON BEARD, AP Sports Writer
DURHAM — Duke’s youngsters have made their way through the preconference schedule. Still, coach Mike Krzyzewski knows things are about to get a lot tougher for his Blue Devils.
Josh McRoberts had a career-high 21 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead No. 5 Duke past Temple 73-55 on Tuesday night, the Blue Devils’ final game before starting the Atlantic Coast Conference play.
DeMarcus Nelson scored 14 points and had a career-best 11 rebounds for the Blue Devils (13-1), who extended the nation’s longest nonconference home winning streak to 51 games. Duke won for the seventh straight time in the series with Temple (6-6) and has won nine consecutive games overall.
It’s a good way for the Blue Devils to head into this weekend’s game against Virginia Tech, the start of Duke’s pursuit of an eighth league title in nine years. Duke was picked to finish second in the ACC in the preseason despite losing All-Americans J.J. Redick and Shelden Williams.
McRoberts, a 6-foot-10 sophomore, is giving the Blue Devils plenty of reason for optimism. He turned in an all-around strong performance, shooting 7-for-12 from the field while tallying four blocks and four assists in 32 minutes.
McRoberts even had a behind-the-back bounce pass to a cutting Nelson for a layup in the second half.
The Blue Devils also got solid contributions from reserves David McClure (career-high 12 rebounds) and 7-foot freshman Brian Zoubek, who scored eight first-half points that helped Duke push ahead for good. Meanwhile, freshman Jon Scheyer led the defensive effort on Temple’s Dionte Christmas, who came in as the Atlantic 10’s leading scorer at 20.8 points per game. Christmas finished with 15 points on 5-for-15 shooting.
That all added up to the Blue Devils overcoming an early 12-point deficit by holding the Owls to 34 percent shooting and using their size advantage to take a 49-28 rebounding edge.
Temple didn’t show any signs of nerves in taking a 16-4 lead in the first 4 1/2 minutes. But things changed quickly once 7-footer Sergio Olmos — Temple’s only player taller than 6-6 in the regular rotation — picked up his third foul midway through the first half with the Owls leading 24-18.
That opened the door for Zoubek, who scored against the 6-5 Christmas on a switch in the paint after an offensive rebound and followed with another inside basket off a feed from Nelson that gave Duke its first lead, 25-24 with 5:49 left in the half. Once Duke got those easy baskets inside, the Blue Devils had the momentum that had abandoned the Owls.
Greg Paulus closed the half with a tough hanging layup and a 3-pointer — Duke’s only 3 in eight attempts for the half — that made it 35-28 at the break.
The Owls got no closer than five points in the early minutes of the second half, with Duke maintaining control of the game the rest of the way. The Blue Devils’ best stretch came midway through the second half, starting when Paulus threw a no-look, behind-the-head pass to a trailing Nelson for a transition dunk.
Then, after hitting a 3-pointer that bounced off the rim before dropping through, McRoberts matched Paulus with his behind-the-back assist to Nelson for a 56-41 lead with 9:05 left.
Duke led by as many as 20 points late.