Devils Demolish Gonzaga, 76-41

A slow start on offense for both teams threatened to make Saturday afternoon's game between Gonzaga and Duke a snoozer. That was before Nolan Smith and Jon Scheyer found their range. The starting backcourt combined for 44 points to lead Duke to a 35 point win over the No. 15 Zags.

Smith scored a game high 24 points, while Scheyer chipped in with 20 to help Duke overcome a slow start and propel the Blue Devils to their ninth victory of the season.

The starting backcourt duo's performance was crucial as the Blue Devils once again watched swingman Kyle Singler struggle on the offensive end. In order to counter Singler's struggles, Duke turned up the defensive pressure and held the high scoring Zags to their lowest point total in 25 seasons. Individually, no Gonzaga player reached double figures.

Still, the nation's No. 15 team was leading the Blue Devils by a 10-8 margin with 9:05 remaining after Robert Sacre converted a two point jumper. To that point Duke had missed 12 of their 15 field goal attempts.

From there the Blue Devil backcourt would take over with Smith and Scheyer scoring the next nine points to kick off a 23-7 flurry to end the half with a 31-17 advantage despite shooting 0-of-6 from the perimeter.

Those shooting woes were quickly forgotten as the two knocked down three consecutive perimeter attempts as part of a 9-1 run to start the second half and the eventual avalanche that would put the game away.

Scheyer finished with five assists and five rebounds on the night. Singler, who finished 0-of-5 from the perimeter, did manage to score seven second half points to finish with 9 points and 10 rebounds against five turnovers.

Senior forward Lance Thomas added nine rebounds to help the Blue Devils run their winning streak at Madison Square Garden to six, including three wins this year as Duke defeated Arizona State and Connecticut in the NIT Season Tip-off in November.

Entering the game, Gonzaga was averaging just under 80 points per contest while shooting almost 50 percent from the field and 38 percent from the perimeter. A combination of an "off" night and Duke's pressure defense produced numbers that were a good deal off those season averages. The Bulldogs shot just 28 percent from the field, 10 percent from the perimeter, and 48 percent from the free throw line.

Duke also won the battle of the boards by a 40-30 margin. Senior forward Lance Thomas chipped in there with nine boards.

Duke returns to action on December 29th against Long Beach State in Cameron.

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