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Virginia no challenge for Blue Devils

Junior Kyle Singler had his way on the offensive end against the Cavaliers Sunday. He continued his recent tear by scoring 21 points, including 15 in the first half, and draining as many threes as Virginia did—two.
Junior Kyle Singler had his way on the offensive end against the Cavaliers Sunday. He continued his recent tear by scoring 21 points, including 15 in the first half, and draining as many threes as Virginia did—two.

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Kyle Singler and Jon Scheyer combined for 41 points Sunday, propelling No. 5 Duke past undermanned Virginia 67-49 at John Paul Jones Arena.

The Cavaliers (14-13, 5-9 in the ACC) were put at an immediate disadvantage before the tip as Sylven Landesberg, their leading scorer, was unable to play because of injuries sustained in a previous game against Miami. The star guard, who is the active career leading scorer in the ACC at 17.0 points per game, usually leads the Cavalier offense single-handedly. The sophomore suffered a deep leg bruise that affected his range of motion to the point that head coach Tony Bennett refused to let him play. Landesberg’s absence visibly crippled the Virginia offense, and Duke held the Cavaliers to a season-low 49 points.

“We didn’t really find out he wasn’t playing until the beginning of the game,” Singler said. “Our mindset really didn’t change that much, though, because we knew how important this game was for us in terms of momentum.”

The Blue Devils (25-4, 12-2) took control early on with a 20-4 run to start the game. Singler set a determined example for Duke—scoring five points in the first four minutes—and dove into the stands on top of a horde of Virginia fans after a loose ball. Singler had 11 points before the Cavaliers managed even two field goals, and Virginia would never get closer than 10 points for the rest of the contest. In total, Singler torched Virginia for 15 of his 21 points in the first half, shooting 80 percent in the period.

The rest of the Blue Devils, though not nearly as hot as Singler, shot 42 percent in the half and held the Cavaliers to just 32 percent. Virginia failed to post a single 3-point shot in the first eight minutes of the game and posed little of an offensive obstacle all night for Duke.

“It was a great team win,” Singler said. “Individually, I thought I got some free throws and open shots and we played well all together.”

The second half opened up with a strong performance by Scheyer. The senior point guard buried two 3-point shots in the first four minutes and continued to score consistently throughout the half. The perfect compliment to Singler’s first half, Scheyer scored 13 of his 20 points in the second half and shot 83 percent from the field.

An energized Mason Plumlee was the third leading scorer for the night, posting six points, four rebounds and two assists.

On a night when everything came easy on the offensive end, head coach Mike Krzyzewski was most impressed with his team’s defensive effort.

Krzyzewski said that he always warns his team  to be wary of the mentality that a game is going to be easy when a top player is injured. The Blue Devils responded well to their coach’s advice and denied any opportunities for Virginia to go on an offensive run. The only standout performance from the Cavaliers came from senior forward Jerome Meyinsse, who scored a career-high 21 points—the only Virginia player to score in double figures.

“They have kids who can really shoot the ball, who haven’t been shooting that well [recently], but have during the season,” Krzyzewski said. “So I thought defensively we did a nice job against them and had a kind of a workmanlike performance.”

With the victory Sunday, Duke extended its winning streak to eight games going into Wednesday’s matchup against Maryland in College Park, Md. The Blue Devils have a one-game lead over the Terrapins in the conference, making the game a battle for the regular season crown.

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