Outside shooting helps Duke rollMar 6, 2008 - 4:13 AM CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia (Ticker) -- Duke appears ready for its conference showdown on Saturday.
Gerald Henderson scored 19 points and freshman Kyle Singler added 18 as the fifth-ranked Blue Devils cruised to an 86-70 victory over Virginia in an Atlantic Coast Conference matchup on Wednesday.
DeMarcus Nelson chipped in 16 points and Greg Paulus had 14 for Duke (26-3, 13-2 ACC), which hosts arch-rival North Carolina (13-2) in the season finale this weekend. The winner will claim the regular-season conference championship.
"I probably won't watch TV for the next few days," Paulus said. "It's exciting and it's March, a great time for basketball. It's a great opportunity to get a chance to play against a terrific team (UNC) and a quality program with a great tradition."
The game was close early on and Duke trailed by four midway through the first half before going on a big run before intermission.
The Blue Devils made four 3-pointers during a 21-3 run that put them in front, 43-29, with under one minute to play in the first half and Duke held a 12-point lead at the break.
"I was proud of our team tonight," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "They really prepared hard for this game, and we had a lot of energy even at the shootaround today because we knew that Virginia was playing it's best basketball of the season."
Duke did not let up early in the second half, using a 10-2 spurt - capped by a 3-pointer by Henderson - to take a 61-43 lead with 15:06 remaining.
The Cavaliers cut their deficit to single digits with a 10-0 burst, closing within 66-57. However, that would be as close as they could get. The Blue Devils later surged further ahead at 79-62 after a 3-pointer by Singler with 5:36 left to play.
"I think what we do and do not do, it is always on the defensive end," Virginia coach Dave Leitao said. "For about 30 minutes I do not think we had the kind of defensive aggression to make the proper rotations quicker, and switch better. Good teams like Duke exploit it, (and) they would not let us come back."
Jon Scheyer also scored in double figures with 10 points for Duke, which made 12-of-27 shots from the arc for the game.
"A couple kids really made big plays because we had our perimeter in," Krzyzewski said. "Jon Scheyer and Gerald Henderson made tremendous baskets on offensive boards. When you get offensive rebound baskets, it gives you energy and knocks some energy out of the other team."
Sean Singletary had 18 points and seven assists and freshman Calvin Baker had 15 points to pace Virginia (14-14, 4-11), which has lost 11 of its last 12 meetings with Duke.
"We played with good energy for the most part but we didn't always make the smartest plays at times," Singletary said. "We never could get over that hump, kind of like it's been all year where we make a run and we don't have the energy to get over that last hump."
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