Singler leads No. 10 Duke past No. 21 GTech, 86-67

Kyle Singler had career highs of 30 points and eight 3-pointers to lead No. 10 Duke past No. 21 Georgia Tech 86-67 on Thursday night.

Jon Scheyer added 21 points for the Blue Devils (18-4, 6-2), who were strong inside and outside – hitting nearly 67 percent of their 3s and dominating Georgia Tech’s foul-plagued front line.

Duke held a 40-32 rebounding edge and remained atop the Atlantic Coast Conference by claiming an easy win in a matchup of the league’s only two ranked teams.

Zachery Peacock scored the Yellow Jackets ‘ first 11 points, but didn’t score after that. Leading scorers Gani Lawal and Derrick Favors were in foul trouble for Georgia Tech (16-6, 4-4).

Nolan Smith had 14 points for Duke, which led by double figures for the entire second half in bouncing back from a loss at Georgetown and avenging last month’s 71-67 loss to Georgia Tech.

The Blue Devils shot nearly 45 percent against the nation’s fourth-best field-goal percentage defense, and Singler – who was just 2 for 13 in that defeat in Atlanta – nearly did it all this time.

He finished 8 for 10 from 3-point range, scored 20 points in the final 20 minutes and shook off a pesky right wrist sprain to lead the way in a dominating second half that carried the Blue Devils to their 15th straight win at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

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They were a late Georgia Tech free throw away from their 11th 20-point win at home this season, and entered outscoring their visitors by an average of 28.9 points.

Singler hit his first three 3s of the second half to help push Duke’s lead well into the teens. Then, he helped the Blue Devils take their first 20-point lead when he took off downcourt after his steal and dumped a behind-the-back pass to Smith, whose layup attempt was swatted away on the rim and Brian Oliver was called for goaltending to make it 63-43 with 11 1/2 minutes left.

Duke’s three S’s – Singler, Scheyer and Smith – entered as the nation’s most productive scoring trio, averaging 53 points, and they were simply too much for a talented but young Georgia Tech team that had its productive front line handcuffed by fouls.

Lawal picked up two fouls in the first 33 seconds and played just 16 minutes; he and Favors logged six minutes apiece in the first half. Duke was in the double-bonus 10 minutes into the game – prime position for the nation’s top free-throw-shooting team – and made 24 of 36 attempts from the line. The teams combined for 52 fouls.

Singler’s only two baskets of the first half were big ones, and overshadowed the brief scare he gave the Blue Devils .

His 3 with 12 1/2 minutes until the break put Duke ahead to stay. Then, he went to the bench shortly before halftime clutching the wrist that has bothered him for a few weeks, before returning moments later and rattling in a 3 just before the buzzer to cap a half-closing 15-6 run that gave the Blue Devils their first double-figure lead, 45-33.

Glen Rice Jr. added 10 points for the Yellow Jackets , who were denied their second victory at Cameron since 1996.

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