for this game

Singler helps Duke hold off Rhode Island

Nov 17, 2008 - 4:00 AM DURHAM, North Carolina (Ticker) -- Kyle Singler saved Duke from a rare defeat.

Singler scored six of his 21 points in the final two minutes to lead the fifth-ranked Blue Devils to a 82-79 victory over Rhode Island on Sunday.

Duke is now 131-4 against unranked non-conference opponents at home since the 1997-98 season. The last unranked non-conference foe to win in Cameron Indoor Stadium is St. John's in February 2000. Rhode Island, however, gave Duke a scare.

"What a great game. It was a magnificent game. They had two players who played at a big-time level. Their whole team played at a big time level," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "You can't practice a game like this. It's the best game played so far in college basketball. For us to be in it, that's a good thing."

Jimmy Baron hit eight 3-pointers and finished with 24 points for the Rams. He hit 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to put the Rhode Island up 74-68 with 4:03 to play, but was bottled up in the closing minutes.

"I thought Duke did a really a good job fighting the screens," Baron said. "A lot of the shots we hit, especially the shots I hit, came off dribble penetration. I had to create my shot. Duke's guards, (Jon) Scheyer, (Greg) Paulus, (Nolan) Smith, and (Kyle) Singler, when they switched out, did a really a good job fighting the screens."

Baron had a jumper from the baseline partially blocked by Singler with 4.9 seconds to go. After a pair of free throws by Jon Scheyer put Duke up three, Baron missed a potential tying 3-pointer from halfcourt at the horn.

"The really good thing that we did with him was on the last couple possessions I put Kyle on him so that we had someone really big, and Kyle didn't foul," Krzyzewski said. "He took his vision away and being the really good player (Baron) is, he was trying to get fouled and Kyle had the discipline and we won. Jon and Kyle kind of willed us to win."

Scheyer scored 23 points for the Blue Devils (3-0). He was 5-of-12 from the field and 13-of-13 from the line.

"They were a really good team - we knew that coming in," Scheyer said. "Obviously they played really well, and we haven't played in a high-level game like that yet. Baron didn't miss tonight. He hit some pretty tough shots and I though we played pretty good defense for the most part. Guys made big plays down the stretch, we had two huge stops, and I thought Kyle played unbelievable defense on that last possession to get that last stop."

Duke closed out the first half on an 11-0 run but Rhode Island (1-1) led 34-33 at the break despite committing 12 turnovers.

Delroy James added a career-high 21 points for the Rams, who were 10-of-14 from the arc thanks to Baron's sharp shooting. Baron made 7-of-8 3-pointers in the second half.

"I thought it was a hard fought game. I am really proud of the way our guys played," Rhode Island coach Jim Baron said. "Duke, I really think, is a Final Four team. I am just really proud of our guys. We didn't get intimidated by the crowd. We played to win the game. We played aggressive. We kept attacking the bucket."

Nolan Smith and Lance Thomas each scored 10 points for Duke, which has won an NCAA-best 62 straight home games against non-conference opponents.

Thomas scored all 10 of his points in the second half while Singler had 16 and Scheyer added 15 after the break.

"We weren't able to get a lot of stops throughout the game, but when we needed to and when it counted, we got stops," Singler said. "We didn't rebound the ball as well as we wanted to on the defensive end, but we got the rebounds when we needed to."