DURHAM — Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler stepped on the accelerator at the start of the second half Wednesday night, finally freeing a bogged-down Duke basketball team from its half-court doldrums.
The eighth-ranked Blue Devils led by just three points at halftime in what had been a slow-paced game.
Then Smith and Singler started turning Boston College turnovers into fast-break layups.
In the first eight minutes of the second half, Smith scored 10 points and Singler added six as Duke quickly extended its lead to 19 points in a 79-59 win at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
"It was huge," Singler said. "It sparked the gym, got everyone going, and it was because of our defense. Our defense has been great all year, and getting easy buckets in transition is always good because we haven't always had that throughout the whole season."
Smith finished with 24 points and Singler scored 15 as the Blue Devils won despite a quiet night from leading scorer Jon Scheyer, who had 12 points.
Early in the game, Boston College (10-7, 1-2 ACC) successfully slowed Duke the way Georgia Tech did on Saturday in a 71-67 win over the Blue Devils in Atlanta. The Eagles were aggressive on the boards and prevented Scheyer from getting open shots.
A strong start by forward Miles Plumlee, who scored 10 of his 12 points in the first half, helped Duke (14-2, 2-1) match Boston College early. But with 90 seconds left in the first half, Smith showed a glimpse of what was to come when he got loose for a fast-break dunk.
He sparked the Blue Devils as they scored seven of the final nine points of the half to lead 38-35 at halftime. When Boston College failed to make a field goal for the first 5:20 of the second half, Smith continued racing into the open floor and took Singler with him.
"When our halfcourt defense can force some turnovers, we are unselfish on the break, and I thought we made some really good passes," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "Then the bucket looks bigger. It really does."
In a span of 28 seconds, Smith made a fast-break layup and fed Singler for an alley-oop on a 2-on-1. Singler ran free for two more layups of his own, accounting for six points from close range in 1:25.
Boston College coach Al Skinner called timeout twice in the first four minutes of the second half but couldn't slow the Blue Devils or restart a stagnant Eagles offense that was held to 24 second-half points.
Duke, which had made at least four 3-pointers in every game this season, won despite shooting just 1-for-12 from 3-point range. Krzyzewski suggested that the Blue Devils might not have won with that sort of showing from the perimeter last season.
"We're usually a team that hits six, seven, eight 3s a game," Singler said, "but it's good to see that we can still beat a team without shooting 3s."
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