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Blue Devils Fly By Cavaliers 79-54
Wednesday 02/01/2009  -  Associated Press
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Courtesy: Duke Photography
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Gerald Henderson (left) scored 16 of his 18 points in the first half...

DURHAM, N.C. -- Duke's brief run at No. 1 is nearly over. But if the Blue Devils keep playing like this, they'll probably be back on top soon enough.

Gerald Henderson scored 16 of his 18 points in the first half to lead top-ranked Duke past Virginia 79-54 on Sunday.

Nolan Smith added 15 points on 7-of-10 shooting for the ACC-leading Blue Devils (19-2, 6-1). They wrapped up what surely will be a one-week run as the nation's top-ranked team with a dominating effort that helped them bounce back from a final-seconds loss to Wake Forest.

"There's got to be some kind of fire in you after a loss, and it's nothing like you just try to show," Henderson said. "It's just something that's there. Because the last time you played, the last time people saw you play, you were a loser. We don't want to be seen as that."

Jon Scheyer finished with 11 points for Duke, which never trailed, shot 46 percent and forced 23 turnovers — 17 in the first half. And for a while, at least, its tough defense frustrated star freshman Sylven Landesberg in his first visit to Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Landesberg recovered from a rocky start and scored 12 of his 20 points in the second half. After turning it over three times on his first six trips downcourt and picking up two early fouls, he wound up leading the Cavaliers in scoring for the 11th time in 20 games while hitting the 20-point mark for the 10th time — the most by a freshman in school history.

"I sat a lot on the bench in the first half and had to try to find a way to get back in my rhythm," Landesberg said.

Mike Scott added 10 points for Virginia (7-10, 1-5), which lost its fifth straight and hasn't won an ACC game since the start of 2009.

The Blue Devils improved to 13-0 at home this season, winning for the 28th time in 29 games at Cameron while claiming their 14th straight win there over the Cavaliers.

Virginia fell to 1-27 all-time against top-ranked teams, remained winless in 13 tries on the No. 1 team's home floor and hasn't won in Durham since 1995. That's a tough chore in any year for the Cavaliers, but even moreso this time because they have three freshmen in the starting lineup.

"This is a very bad year to be where we're at. This league is much better than at any point in time that I've been here," fourth-year coach Dave Leitao said. "This league is very, very good at a time where we're very, very young. I don't use that as an excuse. It's just a fact."

From the opening tip, Duke seemed determined to prove that its 70-68 loss to the Demon Deacons was nothing more than an aberration. The Blue Devils shot a season-worst 33 percent in Winston-Salem and missed 18 of their 22 attempts from 3-point range in the defeat that is almost certain to cost them their first No. 1 ranking since 2006.

"You can take a little confidence hit, but we just think, 'Next play,'" forward Kyle Singler said. "The game's over. I don't think we took a confidence hit. Guys are pretty confident, knowing who they are as players, and we know where we are as a team. Overall, I think we're fine."

Back in the cozy confines of their hostile home arena, they proved it.

The Blue Devils had no trouble rediscovering their shooting touch — even with Singler, one of their top scorers, mired in his worst game of the season. Singler — who reached double figures in all but one of Duke's 21 games — finished with just five points on 2-of-7 shooting and missed all five of his 3-pointers.

"Not scoring the ball, I can still rebound the ball, help my teammates out," Singler said. "A lot of guys had good games today."

Henderson and Smith picked up the slack, keying the early 27-7 run that put the Blue Devils in control.

Smith started the run with seven quick points, and Henderson added seven more late in the burst to continue his recent string of dominant play.

By the midpoint of the first half, Henderson single-handedly outscored Virginia 12-11, and that prompted the Cameron Crazies to taunt the Cavaliers with chants of "Gerald's winning."

He added authoritative dunks on consecutive possessions a few seconds later and was well on his way to his seventh straight game with at least 17 points. He hit double figures for the 13th straight game.

"I feel like I don't take a whole bunch of difficult shots, whether it's a kick-out from one of my teammates, or a pull-up where I'm just elevating over guys and shoot it," Henderson said. "I feel like those are good shots for us. You want to take a good shot every time you come down. Guys are thinking about that, and we're really working at it."


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