Rusty Blue Devils Beat Cornell 81-67

A new starting lineup and an opponent that was, at least on paper, overmatched combined with a long layoff to produce a sloppy performance for the Blue Devils. Still, No. 9 Duke managed to shake off the rust to beat Cornell, 81-67 on Sunday afternoon in Durham.

Senior DeMarcus Nelson logged a season high 23 points and nine rebounds, while freshman Kyle Singler added 14 points and seven boards as Duke pulled away from the Big Red to improve to 11-1 on the season.

The victory, which was an NCAA best 58th consecutive over non-conference opponents at home, didn't come as easy as many analysts expected as Cornell was as close as six at 43-37 with just under 19 minutes remaining before freshman Nolan Smith sparked an 11-3 spurt over the next four minutes to make it 54-40.

The Big Red wouldn't get any closer than eight the rest of the way.

Cornell was led by Ryan Wittman who had 13 points, while big man Jeff Foote added 10 points and eight boards.

Joining Nelson and Singler in double figures were sophmore Gerald Henderson with 12, while junior Greg Paulus added 11. Of note was the removal of Paulus from the starting lineup in favor of freshman Nolan Smith who responded with nine points on 4-of-6 shooting from the field.

Smith wasn't the only surprise starter of the evening either. Sophomore big man Brian Zoubek made his second appearance in the starting lineup - finishing with four points and three rebounds.

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