for this game

Second-half surge leads Duke past Holy Cross

Dec 7, 2006 - 2:15 AM DURHAM, North Carolina (Ticker) -- One quick spurt wrecked Holy Cross' bid for a stunning upset.

DeMarcus Nelson and Josh McRoberts scored 13 points apiece as ninth-ranked Duke rallied for a 57-45 victory over Holy Cross.

The Crusaders were playing their fourth road game in 10 days, but it was the Blue Devils who looked fatigued early.

"This is the toughest week academically for our kids; it's the week before exams," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "There is a lot of pressure on them so their (mind-set) for this game is tougher. It doesn't mean it's impossible and we've talked about it. You say, 'Let's beat that.'

"I need to give credit to Holy Cross because they put you in a position by controlling the tempo and being organized and well-coached, to where maybe you have to think more. It's not that we didn't come ready to think, we didn't think hard enough or deep enough."

The Blue Devils (8-1) were behind, 28-22, at halftime and trailed, 34-30, with just over 14 minutes left. At the time, Duke had more turnovers (15) than baskets (11).

Turning up their defense, however, the Blue Devils ran off 13 consecutive points, highlighted by 3-pointers from Nelson and Gerald Henderson, to move ahead, 43-34, with 10:44 left.

Keith Simmons stopped the run with a layup at the 10-minute mark, but Henderson answered with a 3-pointer 24 seconds later to build the lead to 10 and Duke was never threatened thereafter.

"We won the game, but we didn't start the first half the way we wanted to and we didn't come ready to play," Henderson said. "You have to give Holy Cross credit. They set the tone for the game, but in the second half we got some energy and pulled the win out.

"I try to come off the bench and give a spark. Luckily the shots went down for me, and we were able to pull away toward the end. I just felt like, coming off the bench, I needed to bring energy and do something to get us up."

Holy Cross, which managed just 11 points in the final 14 minutes, shot 37 percent (17-of-46) from the field and made just 3-of-16 shots from the arc.

"I thought our defense in the second half was excellent and we didn't foul as much," Krzyzewski. "We just have to keep getting better and we can't turn the ball over 20 times. Our defense has saved us."

Duke won its 47th consecutive non-conference home game, the nation's longest active streak following Oklahoma's loss to Villanova on Wednesday night.

The Blue Devils outrebounded the Crusaders, 34-24, to help them offset their own 20 turnovers and 44 percent shooting (19-of-43) from the floor.

Holy Cross closed the first half with a 12-3 run to take the six-point lead at the half, matching its biggest of the game. But the Crusaders scored just 17 points after intermission.

"As a team, I think we're expecting to come in and just be Duke," guard David McClure said. "Right now it's not happening. We have to earn it. Teams are coming in and are playing their butts off against us and really putting us to the test. I think a lot of times we're not ready for it. Once we start to come ready for games, our offense will come."

Simmons scored 13 points for Holy Cross (6-3), which is in the midst of an 11-game road swing.

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    HOLY CROSS 28 17 45
    DUKE (9) 22 35 57 FINAL

    Dec 6 8:58 PM

    DUKE (9) 22 HALFTIME

    Dec 6 7:48 PM