CAMERON INDOOR STADIUM/ DURHAM—University of Pennsylvania guard Darren Smith swished a three pointer just nine seconds into his team's New Year's Eve contest against the Duke Blue Devils in Cameron Indoor Stadium Thursday night. But Duke guard Nolan Smith answered on the other end with a three of his own, scoring the first of his team-leading 23 points on the way to a 59-point Duke victory.
Smith wasn't alone: Five Duke players scored in double digits. Indeed, the contest versus the hustling but very outmanned and interim-coached Quakers often seemed more like a final workout for the Devils before a live audience in advance of next week's ACC play than an actual regular season game.
To wit, Duke outrebounded Penn 43-25 (and, more impressively, 24-10 in the first half), nabbing more offensive boards than Penn had defensive boards. Led by Smith's four threes and Jon Scheyer's triplet, Duke nearly shot 50 percent beyond the arc, compared to Penn's 21 percent. (Penn's Smith, who hit that opening shot, only hit one more, when his Quakers were down by 36 in the second half.) Schmingler-Duke's tripartite scoring machine of Scheyer, Smith and Kyle Singler-combined for 62 points.
It was bolstered by the Plumlee brothers, as tonight's game gave the Devils the season's first strong look at the Indiana pair. Among the guests were Denzel Washington (whose son is Quaker freshman Malcolm Washington), and the Plumlee's younger, taller brother Marshall—himself a hot recruiting property—who watched the action from but a few rows behind their favored team's respective bench. The brothers have struggled often since freshman Mason entered the lineup last month after a hand injury in a preseason practice caused him to miss the season's first six games. Since his Wisconsin debut, he's scored just 14 total points, while sophomore and starter Miles has scored only 25. Thursday, though, Mason bested his season totals with 18 points, adding five rebounds to Duke's totals. Miles, meanwhile, added 10 points and 9 rebounds. The Plumlees' defense seemed much improved, too, as well as their connection with their teammates-both brothers connected on several long distance alley-oops with guard Scheyer and forward Singler.
"He's getting further removed from that wrist injury," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said of Mason's performance. "We got significant playing time for all of our bench, and that helps. He missed out on that, and he'll keep getting better."
Penn is very much a program in transition following the recent addition of former Penn star Jerome Allen as interim head coach. The Quakers started the season 0-6 under Glen Miller, who was replaced following a five-point loss to Monmouth earlier this month. "These last two games for us have to be viewed as opportunities for us to get better," Allen said Thursday. "We still have the bulk of our season ahead of us."
Duke, too: The Devils play the ranked Clemson Tigers (12-2, coming off of a tight Tuesday victory over South Carolina State) Sunday night in Durham. After being the most winning college basketball program this decade with 294 victories, they've got a lot of winning to do in 2010.
CARMICHAEL AUDITORIUM/CHAPEL HILL UNC is still getting settled into its "new" old home in women's basketball, and the No. 7 Tar Heels will close out the year against one more underdog opponent.
Today's visitor is East Tennessee State (4-5), which has been to Chapel Hill eight times before and come up empty every time.
The Bucs are members of the Atlantic Sun Conference, a lower-tier league that doesn't play football.
ETSU made the move there from the Southern Conference in 2005 after deciding to end its football program. The visitors hang on for a half, but the Tar Heels eventually win 104-65 in their second game in their remodeled arena.
But the Bucs don't surrender easily, coming out firing up 3-pointers and leading much of the first half.
UNC leads 7-0 on a pair of Cetera DeGraffenreid free throws at 18:39, but the Bucs come back to take the lead at 17-16 on a Siarre Evans 3-pointer at 12:52.
There are three more lead changes and a pair of ties, with the Tar Heels taking the lead for good at 27-25 on Cierra Robertson-Warren's follow at 7:22. UNC leads 48-35 at halftime.
Italee Lucas leads the Tar Heels with 17 points in their first triple-digit scoring outing of the season. UNC places five in double figures including She'la White (pictured) and DeGraffenreid with 15 points each, Waltiea Rolle with a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds, and Martina Wood with 12 points.
Duke finished up 2009 with a pretty tough road challenge in women's basketball.
And behind a double-double of a career-high 23 points and a career-high 14 rebounds from Karima Christmas (pictured), the Blue Devils held off Temple 70-62.
Jasmine Thomas added 15 points for No. 8 Duke (11-2), which also got 13 points from Bridgette Mitchell.
Kristen McCarthy finished with 16 points to lead Temple (10-3), which was off to its best start in 28 years. Jasmine Stone and Victoria Macaulay added 10 points apiece for Temple.
Duke shot just 34 percent against the Owls, but dominated the boards 40-27.
The Blue Devils will return home on Sunday to take on Providence.
North Carolina’s contest against Albany on Wednesday night brought another win for the Tar Heels, but also increased consternation on the part of coaches, players and fans.
The Heels took control of the game early against its outclassed opponent, but proceeded to allow a 23-to-2 run over the final eight minutes of the game in an embarrassing display of offensive and defensive efficiency.
For the second consecutive game, senior Marcus Ginyard sat out with a sprained ankle, and he was joined last night by sophomore Justin Watts, also out with an ankle injury.
Dexter Strickland got the start at wing guard alongside Larry Drew, and freshman Leslie McDonald — who scored nine points — benefited from the absence of the other wings.
No.7 UNC and No. 8 Duke will both play their final women's basketball games of 2009 today at 2 p.m.
At least for the Blue Devils, it might be a pretty good challenge.
Sylvia Hatchell's Tar Heels (10-1) will host Atlantic Sun Conference member East Tennessee State (4-5) in the season's second game at renovated Carmichael Auditorium, while Joanne P. McCallie's Blue Devils (10-2) will visit unranked Temple (10-2).
UNC will also be at home against downwardly mobile Winston-Salem State on Saturday while Duke hosts Providence on Sunday in the teams' final games before ACC conference play.
N.C. State led all the way and then held on in the final minute, getting new coach Kellie Harper another big road victory with a 59-53 women's basketball decision at Southern California.
Amber White (pictured) led the Wolfpack (9-5) with 17 points while Bonae Holston added 16 in the first meeting between the two teams.
Briana Gilbreath led USC (6-5) with 16 points, while Daniela Roark chipped in 10 off the bench.
Marissa Kastanek added 12 points for the Wolfpack, which saw a 16-point second-half lead cut to a point before the Trojans couldn't score over the final 3:21.
Nikitta Gartrell's three-point play and a pair of White free throws locked up the result for the Wolfpack.
State's final game before the start of ACC play is at home on Monday night against Columbia.
McDOUGALD-McLENDON GYM/DURHAM N.C. Central gets an odd sort of test tonight in women's basketball.
A few hundred home fans are going to find out just how the Eagles recover from the largest margin of defeat in school history.
That was, of course, on Monday at crosstown rival and No. 8 Duke, a 117-28 defeat in a series which is going to continue. The Eagles played that night without freshman leading scorer Joanna Miller, who also leads the team in assists.
Tonight's opponent provides a more reasonable challenge. It's former and future MEAC foe South Carolina State (4-6), which topped the visiting Eagles 81-75 in overtime back on Dec. 1. NCCU beat the Bulldogs 72-60 in January in Durham for its only win in the six games of the series.
If the Eagles are still stinging from the loss in West Durham, it certainly isn't showing when they hit the floor. In fact the overall performance is the very definition of resilience, as they blow out the Bulldogs 84-54 with their best game of the season.
Team Canada executive director Steve Yzerman had one of the luckiest and yet least enviable jobs this year in picking a hockey team from Canada’s bottomless pool of talent for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Every analyst on the web had his or her take, and it wasn’t looking good for Carolina star center Eric Staal, who was edged off of most lists. An early, lengthy injury the year of the Olympics is often the kiss of death for anyone but the top ten players in the NHL – it certainly didn’t help Cam Ward, though the term “long shot” doesn’t begin to cover it – but Staal received that coveted phone call this morning telling him he would be representing the host country in Vancouver this February.
Staal is an obvious choice, but he wasn’t exactly a given. He was selected over perennial Olympians Shane Doan, Ryan Smyth and Brad Richards. Doan has had a better statistical season as captain of the Phoenix Coyotes (in more games) and both he and Smyth have helped their teams surge forward into the standings after a long postseason drought. Neither have recent playoff experience and Staal’s performance in Carolina’s recent playoff runs probably showed Yzerman and Co. that he has the ability to play under pressure. Not that the others don’t. Agh – like I said, the last few weeks must have been tough for Yzerman.
Young guns Patrick Sharp, Vincent Lecavalier and Jeff Carter were also left off the list after amassing more points than Staal through the first half of the season.
CAMERON INDOOR STADIUM/DURHAM Duke returns home after a brief Christmas break, hosting a Big West team that has had a rigorous schedule.
Long Beach State's schedule is ranked third nationally headed into tonight's contest.
The Blue Devils take the lead at 19:13 of the first half and never let go, rolling to a 84-63 victory.
Duke now stands 10-1, with its only loss at Wisconsin in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. Long Beach drops to one game below .500 with tonight's loss.
Duke has five players who score in double digits including Jon Scheyer (22), Nolan Smith (19) and Kyle Singler (14). Brian Zoubek notches his third career double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds, while Lance Thomas also has 10 points.
Larry Anderson hits 14 to lead three Long Beach players in double figures.
Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski:
On the game:
"I thought we beat a good team tonight, a team that's trained hard, probably harder than anyone in the country. Initially I thought we played great. We let up defensively once we got a really commanding lead and we never got back to the level of defense that we played at the beginning of the game till the end of the game. I thought our two backcourt kids [Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith] were terrific to have 14 assists and 0 turnovers in this game. They have good quickness and they just took good care of the ball. Overall, I thought we played well or else we wouldn't win. They (Long Beach State) keep a lot of pressure with their quickness. We did a good job on [T.J.] Robinson because he's actually been 18 and 13 and he's done it against Kentucky and Notre Dame, West Virginia and UCLA and Clemson. That's the schedule that these guys have played, so they weren't in awe of anybody. They weren't going to back down. I thought, especially in the second half, they played really well. Coming off the break, overall I thought we did well. We did a good job."
Just how can a basketball team bounce back from an 89-point loss?
N.C. Central is going to find out today.
The Eagles (1-10), who fell 117-28 at Duke on Monday, try to get onto the winning track today when they host South Carolina State (4-6) at McLendon-McDougald Gym. SCSU beat the Eagles 81-75 in overtime back on Dec. 1 in Orangeburg.
That contest is one of two on the slate for the Triangle's Division I women's teams.
N.C. State (8-5) will be on the left coast tonight for a battle with Southern California (6-4). The Trojans are on a two-game winning streak since their 78-72 loss to Duke in Durham on Dec. 6.
NCCU is expected to again have leading scorer Joanna Miller (pictured), who was out on a one-game suspension for a violation of team rules while her teammates took on Duke. The game against the Bulldogs is the opener of a six-game homestand for Joli Robinson's club.