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December 6, 2006

Devils use rally to top Holy Cross

The search for a complete game has so far been a frustrating one for Duke, but at least the Blue Devils are continuing to find ways to win.

Duke rallied from a six point halftime deficit to defeat Holy Cross Wednesday night, 57-45 at Cameron Indoor Stadium, despite another lackluster offensive effort.

The Crusaders took a 28-22 halftime lead to the locker room after Duke finished the first 20 minutes with just two assists and 12 turnovers before a less than full and rather placid crowd.

The Blue Devils trailed 14-9 about midway through the first half when a three pointer by David McClure sparked a brief 10-2 Duke spurt to take the lead 19-16 with 6:00 remaining.

However, that spurt quickly fizzled, and Holy Cross outscored the Blue Devils 12-3 over the remainder of the half to take all of the momentum into the locker room.

It was the second half play of freshmen Gerald Henderson and Lance Thomas, combined with the all around play of Josh McRoberts that really keyed the comeback and helped Duke avoid the upset.

From under the basket, McRoberts zipped an assist to Greg Paulus in the corner for a three pointer to open second half scoring, and after another three from DeMarcus Nelson and a fast break slam by McRoberts, the Blue Devils had drawn even at 30-30 three minutes into the half.

A brief Holy Cross response gave the Crusaders the lead again by four, but another basket by McRoberts on a drive to the rim started a 13-0 run by Duke that finally gave the Devils control of the game.

Henderson's three pointer off an assist from Jon Scheyer closed out that run. It was the first three point bucket of the season for the freshman, and he liked the feeling so much he buried a second trey less than two minutes later to extend the lead to double figures.

Thomas's contributions showed up in the rebounding column, as the freshman ripped away five offensive boards and had a total of eight in the game to help Duke outrebound Holy Cross 34-24.

After Henderson's second three pointer, the Crusaders wouldn't trim the lead lower than nine points the rest of the night.

But while the Blue Devils improved to 8-1 on the season, this didn't seem like a night for celebration.

After the game, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said his team lacked leadership on the floor, a direct reference to tri-captains Nelson, Paulus, and McRoberts.

Paulus had three assists for the game, but he added three more turnovers to his total as well, and drew some criticism from Krzyzewski for failing to control the tempo of the game against Holy Cross's senior laden backcourt.

It was a rather dispiriting effort following such a stirring second half effort against Georgetown Saturday night, when Duke played arguably its best 20 minutes of the year to dominate the Hoyas.

Against the Crusaders, Duke finished with 20 turnovers, which won't help its season average of 17.5 per game.

The shooting numbers weren't much better. Only some improved shooting down the stretch upped Duke's percentage for the game to 44.2 percent, and from the foul line the Blue Devils were a horrendous 48.1 percent.

The Blue Devils will have two days before getting another stern mid-major test from George Mason, which comes to Cameron Indoor Stadium Saturday.

Guard Keith Simmons led Holy Cross Wednesday night with 13 points.


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