for this game

Singler's second half secures sixth straight win for Duke

Jan 25, 2008 - 5:46 AM BLACKSBURG, Virginia (Ticker) -- Kyle Singler and Duke were not interested in letting Virginia Tech spoil another strong start.

The freshman forward scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half as the third-ranked Blue Devils captured their sixth straight win with an 81-64 Atlantic Coast Conference victory over the Hokies on Thursday.

Gerald Henderson had 11 points for Duke (16-1, 4-0 ACC), which remained the lone unbeaten team in league play.

Last season, the Blue Devils were off to a 13-1 start when they absorbed a 69-67 overtime loss at home to the Hokies, who used the big win to forge a 22-12 season and an appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

Just 2-2 in its previous four games with Virginia Tech, in part because of a 67-65 loss here in February 2005, Duke built to a double-digit lead in the first half before having to settle for a 42-38 edge at intermission.

Appearing as if the Blue Devils were going to have another tight battle with the Hokies, Singler stepped up.

Duke's second-leading scorer along with Henderson at 13.1 points coming in, Singler hit a 3-pointer in response to one from Virginia Tech's A.D. Vassallo in the opening moments of the second half.

The 6-8 forward also hit a jumper, dunked and had a layup inside the first three minutes as the Blue Devils went ahead, 53-45.

Singler also contributed three points in a 14-3 run to forged a 67-50 cushion with 9:47 remaining.

Duke later went up by 20 points at 75-55 when Henderson's layup just over five minutes left capped a 6-0 run.

"I thought we played hard the second half, but we didn't compete," Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg said. "There's a difference. You're not going to win a game like tonight without being a little tougher and a little more poised. I thought they knocked us back in the second half and we did not respond."

Undermanned without stellar freshman Jeff Allen, the Hokies could not get any closer than 14 points over the final nine minutes.

The team's second-leading scorer (12.8) and top rebounder, Allen was suspended for the first of two games after bumping an official in Saturday's loss at Georgia Tech.

"A lot of times playing a team when something happens like that (Allen's suspension), they either go one way or the other," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "Seth and his staff had them up here. They were really ready to play. It was a really supportive crowd for their team tonight. Their kids played well."

Despite a very supportive base at Cassell Coliseum, Virginia Tech (11-8, 2-3) could not quite get it together offensively, finishing with 22 turnovers. It was the second straight game where it had at 20 giveaways.

"They play great defense," said Hokies forward Deron Washington, who committed six of those turnovers. "They deny everything and they stay on top of everyone. They put a ton of pressure on the ball. They played a real good game."

"They forced us into some of those, but I think a lot of it was just us throwing the ball away," Vassallo said. "We've got to take better care of the ball. It's something we emphasize every day. We need to focus, put our minds to it, and not throw the ball away."

The Hokies also went just 16-of-27 (59 percent) on free throws.

"That's like a turnover," Greenberg said.

Making just one of six shots in the first half, Singler finished 6-of-14 from the field with nine rebounds.

DeMarcus Nelson and Greg Paulus added 10 points each for the Blue Devils, who finished with 25 points off turnovers.

Although Singler was off the mark early, the Blue Devils race out to a quick start, grabbing a 21-10 lead just over nine minutes into the contest behind a 15-4 run. Nelson had six points over that span.

The Hokies chipped into that deficit, closing within 37-34 on a layup by Washington with 2:29 remaining before intermission.

Virginia Tech got within a point at 39-38 more than a minute later on a dunk by J.T. Thompson, but freshman Taylor King connected on his third 3-pointer of the half to give Duke the four-point lead at the half.

Vassallo had 16 points and nine boards and Thompson scored 13 for Virginia Tech, which lost at home for the first time this season (7-1).