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McRoberts, Duke use late first-half run to down Temple

Jan 3, 2007 - 6:42 AM DURHAM, North Carolina (Ticker) -- Watch out Atlantic Coast Conference, Josh McRoberts has started to live up to his promise.

McRoberts scored a career-high 21 points as fifth-ranked Duke used a late first-half run to post a 73-55 victory over Temple in the Blue Devils' final contest before ACC play.

DeMarcus Nelson finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds and Greg Paulus scored 12 for Duke (13-1), which extended the nation's longest active winning streak against non-conference opponents at home to 51 games.

Setting a career best for the second time in four games, McRoberts continued a stellar stretch that earned him the ACC co-Player of the Week award on Tuesday. He also grabbed nine rebounds, handed out four assists and blocked four shots.

"He's just going to keep getting better," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "He's really a good player, and he wants to be good. He's grown up so much in his desire to become a special player. His leadership has been spectacular for our basketball team. He's doing that kind of stuff like a really good senior."

In his last four games, the 6-10 sophomore is averaging 16.5 points on 49 percent (25-of-51) shooting and pulling down 10.3 boards.

"He's really coming into his own right now," Nelson said. "He's taking his game to the next level and playing with a whole lot of confidence. His play has been vital to our success and I can only expect him to get better as the season progresses."

Duke starts league play hosting Virginia Tech on Saturday.

"It's that time," Nelson said. "The ACC starts Saturday so it's that time of year for us to get better."

McRoberts had 12 points in the first half, but just one during an 18-5 run that the Blue Devils used to turned a six-point deficit into a 35-28 advantage at intermission. Freshman center Brian Zoubek had six points and Paulus added five during the burst.

Paulus had all of his points at the end of the half, including a 3-pointer after a Duke timeout with 39 seconds left.

"I thought Paulus' jumper at the end of the half hurt us badly," Temple coach Fran Dunphy said. "There's going to be runs and stretches where they're going to play very good defense and they did that, and we just needed to weather the storm and we didn't do it so well."

The Owls (6-6) got no closer than six points thereafter as the Blue Devils eventually pulled away in the second half, shooting 50 percent (14-of-28) from the field, including 4-of-7 3-pointers.

"We have not had a comfortable offensive performance yet," Krzyzewski said. "In the last 30 minutes, it seemed much better. We've been playing well in spurts offensively, we haven't been turning it over as much and we're getting good shots." Temple has lost its last seven meetings with Duke.

Dionte Christmas scored 15 points and Dustin Salisbery 13 for Temple, which shot 33 percent (23-of-67), including 3-of-18 on 3-pointers.

"We got a picture tonight of a really good defensive team that we're going to face on Saturday as well (at Xavier)," Dunphy said. "I'm encouraged by what I see. The guys are working hard, they're doing what they need to do, and it's a great group of people. Hopefully we're learning each and every game we play in."

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    TEMPLE 28 27 55
    DUKE (5) 35 38 73 FINAL

    Jan 2 8:55 PM

    TEMPLE 28
    DUKE (5) 35 HALFTIME

    Jan 2 7:47 PM
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