NEW YORK – Kyle Singler showed up from the start this time, scoring 15 points and leading No. 10 Duke to a 71-56 victory over surprising Michigan on Friday night in the championship game of the 2K Sports Classic.
Nolan Smith added 16 points and Gerald Henderson had 12 for the Blue Devils, who won their four games in the 2K Sports Classic by an average of 28.5 points. Duke has won seven straight in-season tournament games after sweeping through the Maui Invitational last season.
Manny Harris scored 25 points to lead Michigan (3-1), which will get another crack at the Blue Devils (5-0) when they visit Ann Arbor on Dec. 6. DeShawn Sims added 10 points off the bench.
Singler struggled early in the Blue Devils' semifinal win over Southern Illinois, scoring all 13 of his points in the second half.
The 6-foot-8 sophomore was on target early in this one, going 3-for-3 from the field in the first half and hitting key shots whenever Michigan threatened to tighten things up. He also had eight rebounds in earning the tournament MVP award.
The game figured to hinge on Michigan's ability to slow down Duke's high-flying offense, and early on coach John Beilein's patented 1-3-1 zone defense seemed to confuse the Blue Devils.
Then Smith and freshman Elliot Williams combined for eight straight points, giving Duke a 25-15 lead with just under nine minutes left in the first half, forcing the Wolverines to eventually switch to a man-to-man defense that kept the game close for a while.
The Blue Devils pushed the advantage to 47-33 on a basket by Lance Thomas a few minutes into the second half. Harris tried vainly to keep the Wolverines in it, hitting a three-pointer and dunking on a break, but Jon Scheyer made three free throws moments later and Singler hit a pull-up three from the wing to push the lead back to 15.
Michigan never managed to get much closer than that, the veteran Blue Devils using deft passing and gritty inside play to keep the young Wolverines at bay.
Still, Beilein has plenty of reasons to be proud of his team. After struggling to a 10-22 finish in his first season, the Wolverines toppled No. 4 UCLA in the tournament semifinals and gave the Blue Devils a tussle before finally succumbing.
The performance Friday night was all the more impressive considering the setting.
Duke has won 14 straight in November and improved to 108-16 in the season's first month, including 94-10 under Mike Krzyzewski. His teams are 17-6 at Madison Square Garden, where another heavily pro-Duke crowd showed up in droves to see the title game of the tournament benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer.