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Duke trips Arizona State 64-53 to advance to NIT Championship game

Duke Photo
Duke Photo

NEW YORK - Duke just didn't look itself in a building where the Blue Devils have been so impressive so often.

The seventh-ranked Blue Devils were tied with Arizona State with 13 minutes left in the second semifinal of the NIT Season Tip-Off on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.

But then Kyle Singler, who uncharacteristically missed eight of his first nine shots, made his second straight to give Duke the lead for good and the Blue Devils turned up the defensive intensity in a 19-3 run that led to a 64-53 victory over the Sun Devils.

"I could have played more aggressively and that's what I do," said Singler, who finished 5 of 16 from the field and had 13 points. "Being aggressive is what I do and that gets easy baskets."

Jon Scheyer had 16 points and six assists, and he was the one who found Singler for the two field goals that tied the game and put the Blue Devils ahead for good.

"I don't think looking for him any more than usual and I'm always looking for him when he's open," Scheyer said. "Crunch time is always Kyle's time and those were two big shots for us."

Nolan Smith had 14 points for Duke (5-0), which led by only four at halftime.

The Sun Devils (4-1), who managed to stay close behind their patient offense and pesky zone defense, tied it at 43 on two free throws by Derek Glasser with 13:11 to play only to see Duke break it open with the deciding run.

"I thought defensively after the first 5 minutes was the key to the ballgame," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "And Singler, who was not having a good shooting night, after that timeout in the second half he came out and hit those two buckets right away. It's nice if you're 9 for 12 but when you're whatever he was, when the score is tied, that's very good."

The Blue Devils will face No. 13 Connecticut in the championship game Friday. The Huskies beat LSU 81-55 in the other semifinal.

"A championship here would mean a lot because this is like a Final Four or a Sweet 16 because you play two games in three days against two good teams," Scheyer said. "We'll be ready and so will they."

Singler's second straight field goal gave Duke the lead for good at 45-43. After Scheyer scored in the lane, Singler hit his only 3-pointer to make it 50-43. Rihards Kuksiks' three-point play slowed the run some but the Blue Devils were back at it behind some suddenly effective defense that allowed Arizona State just that one field goal over a 10-minute span.

"I thought their defensive effort, especially in the second half, was terrific," Arizona State coach Herb Sendek said. "Nothing came easy for us. Everything was challenged."

Trent Lockett, limited to 30 minutes by foul trouble, and Glasser both had 13 points for the Sun Devils.

"I think we executed early and we played with a lot of energy," Glasser said. "We just couldn't make that shot we needed down the stretch."

The victory allowed Duke to extend some impressive streaks. This was its 11th straight win in this tournament as the Blue Devils swept to the title in 2000 and 2005. They also won the inaugural tournament in 1985.

This was Duke's fourth straight win at Madison Square Garden and the 11th in its last 12 games in the building. It also was the Blue Devils' 21st straight win in November, a streak that dates to a 2006 loss to Marquette.

Scheyer hit a 3 as he was falling in front of the Arizona State bench to give the Blue Devils a 34-30 lead with 4.8 seconds left in the first half.

Scheyer committed his first turnover of the season 8:02 into the game. The senior guard entered with 21 assists and no turnovers in 131 minutes over the first four games.

His first turnover of the season came when he stepped on the sideline as the Blue Devils were setting up a play, but it didn't lead to any points for the Sun Devils. He finished with two turnovers in the game.

Scheyer had a big smile on his face when the first turnover was brought up.

"Everybody looked at me when it happened," he said. "I just wish it could have happened on a cool pass, not stepping on the line. It's something that just happened but I'm blaming everybody on the team because they started talking about the streak after last game."

Official Game Notes- Duke vs Arizona State, NIT Semi Final

kyle 4Game 5   •  NIT Season Tip-Off Semifinal

Duke (4-0) vs. Arizona State (4-0)

Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2009  •  9:00 p.m.  •  espn2

Madison Square Garden (19,763)  •  New York, N.Y.

The Opening Tip

Duke (4-0), ranked ninth in the AP poll and eighth in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ Poll, faces Arizona State (4-0) on Wednesday, Nov. 25 at 9:00 p.m in the semifinals of the NIT Season Tip-Off. Wednesday’s contest will be aired by espn2 with Dan Shulman, Dick Vitale and Doris Burke calling the action.

The Last Time Out

Duke is coming off a 104-67 win over Radford on Saturday at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Junior Nolan Smith and freshman Andre Dawkins each scored 20 points to pace the offense.

The Blue Devils knocked down 18 three-point field goals, including six by Dawkins, to match a school record. Duke drained 13 three-pointers in the opening half to jump out to a 59-34 advantage.

Senior Jon Scheyer added 18 points and seven assists, while Kyle Singler (13) and Miles Plumlee (12) also reached double figures in scoring. Plumlee added a team-high 11 rebounds for his second consecutive double-double. Singler added seven rebounds and seven assists for his third career game with seven or more points, rebounds and assists. He is just the 10th Blue Devil to accomplish that feat three times in a career.

NIT Season Tip-Off History

Duke is 20-2 all-time in the NIT Season Tip-Off, including an 8-2 mark at Madison Square Garden. The Blue Devils have won 10 straight games in the tournament. Duke won NIT Season Tip-Off championships in 1985, 2000 and 2005.

Numbers Game

l Duke is 25-2 in in-season tournaments over the past nine seasons. The Blue Devils have won nine straight in-season tournament games.

l Duke is 23-14 all-time, including an 18-6 mark under Mike Krzyzewski, at Madison Square Garden. The Blue Devils have won three straight and 10 of their last 11 games at MSG.

l The Blue Devils have won four straight games and are 23-16 all-time against Pac-10 opponents. Duke’s last game against a Pac-10 foe was a 84-73 win over UCLA on Nov. 30, 2002.

l The Blue Devils are 100-10 in the month of November under Coach K. Duke has won 20 straight games in the month, dating back to a Nov. 21, 2006 loss to Marquette.

l Dating back to the final game of last season, Jon Scheyer has played 149 minutes without committing a turnover.

l Junior Nolan Smith has opened his season with back-to-back 20-point scoring games, after recording just one 20-point game during his first two seasons at Duke. Smith leads the team in scoring (22.0 ppg.), assists (6.0 apg.) and three-point percentage (.600, 6-of-10).

l Jon Scheyer has 21 assists and zero turnovers in 131 minutes of action on the year. The Northbrook, Ill., native is the first Duke starting point guard to record over 20 assists before registering a turnover to open a season.

l Sophomore Miles Plumlee is averaging 11.8 points and 9.3 rebounds per game after recording 1.8 points and 1.4 rebounds per game a year ago. He has scored in double figures in all four games this season and has recorded double-doubles in each of the last two games.

l Kyle Singler has scored in double figures in 19 straight games and in 63 of 75 career contests.

l Duke has combined to make 30 three-point field goals in its last two games. The Blue Devils are 30-of-53 (.566) from three-point distance in that span. Senior Jon Scheyer has a team-high eight three-pointers, while freshman Andre Dawkins has seven in the last two games.

l The Blue Devils are averaging 23.0 assists over their last two contests. Duke has recorded an assist on 63.9 percent (72 field goals, 46 assists) of its field goals in that span. Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith each have 12 assists in the last two games.

l Duke scored 104 points and had just eight turnovers in Saturday’s win over Radford, marking the 13th time in school history that Duke has scored over 100 points, while turning the ball over fewer than 10 times.

l The Blue Devils have had less than 10 turnovers in each of the last two games and are averaging just 10.5 turnover per game on the season. Duke leads the ACC in turnover margin at +4.5 turnovers per game.