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Singler's double-double lifts No. 2 Duke to win

From the very beginning of this season, Kyle Singler showed he was no ordinary freshman, taking home MVP honors of the prestigious Maui Invitational in November. Saturday afternoon against Boston College, Singler again demonstrated his importance, leading the Blue Devils with 24 points and 10 rebounds in their 90-80 victory.

More impressive than Singler's numbers, though, were the timing of his baskets and his performance at the most critical points of the contest.

"He's a rare breed," forward Lance Thomas said. "Kyle trains like that. He didn't just wake up one day and was clutch. I've practiced with him, and Kyle works for those situations."

After going back-and-forth with Duke in the second half, the Eagles regained the lead 65-63 on a Tyrese Rice free throw midway through the period. On the ensuing possession, point guard Greg Paulus took a feed from senior DeMarcus Nelson and found Singler, who promptly drained the 3-pointer from the corner. The trey sparked a 7-0 Duke run that gave the Blue Devils the lead for good.

Later, with just more than six minutes remaining in the half, Thomas stole the ball and passed it off to Paulus. As Paulus dribbled down the court, one of the Cameron Crazies screamed, "Look at Singler!" Paulus heeded the advice, finding his wide-open teammate and the freshman knocked down yet another 3-pointer-his third of the afternoon. The long-range shot gave Duke its largest advantage of the game at 80-67 and effectively ended any comeback hopes for the visitors.

"I usually have a big man on me," Singler said. "On the perimeter they lose sight of [me] and Taylor, and we're able to have that three and corner shot. The defense usually has to come over and help with drives. Our team does a really good job of driving and kicking it out."

Singler, however, wasn't just clutch on offense.

With 4:11 remaining, Boston College put the ball in the hands of Rice, who had been shredding the Blue Devil defense with penetration for most of the afternoon. Rice again dribbled into the paint, looking for an easy layup to cut the deficit to seven. But this time, Singler stepped in front to take a late charge, giving the Blue Devils the ball again.

Then, as the final seconds ticked off the clock and Duke led 86-78, Rice ran down the floor and threw up a desperation three. In the ensuing scramble for the rebound, Singler wrestled the ball away from everyone else to record the board, before being fouled and subsequently making both free throws.

The freshman came up with critical play after critical play to seal a win for Duke.

In fact, the only blemish on Singler's stat sheet was a technical foul near the end of the game. After Eagles forward Shamari Spears fouled Gerald Henderson hard, Singler quickly ran over to the two players. He appeared to utter a remark within ear shot of an official, who did not like what he had heard.

Singler was hit with a technical foul, much to the displeasure of the crowd.

"To be honest, I don't really know what I said," Singler said. "I just wanted to see if [Henderson] was all right."

The play, though, did not detract from the overall performance of the 6-foot-8 forward. Singler turned in solid but quiet efforts in the contests leading up to Saturday's matchup-he scored 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in Duke's win over North Carolina Wednesday-but he exploded against Boston College.

His play was especially critical on an afternoon when consistent offensive contributors, such as Paulus and Henderson, struggled.

"I don't know if there's a freshman in the country that's played better than Singler or is more important to his team," head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "Defense, offense, tough plays. The kid's had a phenomenal year and he's there every night."

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