for this game

McRoberts, Duke need second-half push against San Jose St.

Jan 1, 2007 - 12:47 AM DURHAM, North Carolina (Ticker) -- Josh McRoberts and Duke must know that they are going to have to get better if they plan to contend in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

McRoberts scored 15 and DeMarcus Nelson added 13 as fifth-ranked Duke failed to take of advantage of a strong start en route to a 70-51 victory over struggling San Jose State.

Greg Paulus added 12 points for the Blue Devils (12-1), who nearly coughed up an early 16-point lead against a team that has managed just one win on the season.

Pulling ahead, 34-18, after Nelson capped a 13-4 run on a pair of free throws with 6:14 left in the first half, Duke nearly saw that lead disappear as San Jose State (1-12) went on a 15-2 run that spanned halftime.

"I thought San Jose State did a really good job of staying in the game," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "They are a team that hasn't won much but who has good athletes and is putting in a new system. They had confidence and they started the second half like that."

After an 8-0 spurt over the final 5:13 before intermission, the Spartans closed within 36-33 just 1:54 into the second half after Carlton Spencer sandwiched a 3-pointer and a layup around a basket by McRoberts and two free throws by teammate Devonte Thomas.

"In terms of our effort, I thought our guys fought from tip-off to buzzer," San Jose State coach George Nessman said. "We're a very young and inexperienced team, and a building program. Believe it or not, I know it may sound funny, but it was a step forward for our program today. Our guys came into a tough spot and fought."

Not panicking, McRoberts rebounded his own miss on the next possession - one of a career-high 17 boards - and was fouled. After splitting two free throws, the sophomore forward sank his only 3-pointer of the game two possessions later for a 40-33 advantage with 16:32 to play.

"I thought Josh McRoberts was masterful," Nessman said. "We just didn't have an answer for him physically. He was just too much for us."

David McClure had a layup and Paulus added a shot from the arc to push the lead to 45-33 with 14:25 left as the Blue Devils eventually pulled away.

Duke will get one more chance to tune up for ACC play against Temple on Tuesday. It opens league play by hosting Virginia Tech next Saturday.

"Temple will be a very good game for us but starting on Saturday, the world changes when you get into conference play," Krzyzewski said. "Record-wise, it's been terrific. What we need is what you need in any business - competition and the grind of doing it twice a week, home, away, both away, whatever it is, and you see how you grow. This is the most unique season I've ever had with a team."

Spencer was the lone player in double figures with 11 points for San Jose State, which shot 33 percent (22-of-67), including 1-of-12 from the arc.

The team's leading scorer from last season, Spencer appeared in just his second game after missing the first half of the season with eligibility issues. The 6-3 guard shot 5-of-9, but struggled late in the second half with cramps.

"That's where we went down a little bit," he said about his health issues. "They started making baskets and we didn't get any buckets to go down for us."

    --- --- -----
    SAN JOSE ST 26 25 51
    DUKE (5) 34 36 70 FINAL

    Dec 31 2:58 PM

    SAN JOSE ST 26
    DUKE (5) 34 HALFTIME

    Dec 31 1:51 PM