|Duke's Austin Rivers (0) drives against Western Michigan's Nate Hutcheson (11) during the first half an NCAA college basketball game in Durham, N.C., Friday, Dec. 30, 2011. (AP Photo/Sara D. Davis)|
Broncos dominated by No. 7 Duke in 110-70 loss
DURHAM, N.C.—No longer is Western Michigan unbeaten against the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Matt Stainbrook scored 18 points, but the Broncos were routed 110-70 by No. 7 Duke on Friday night for their first loss against a current ACC school.
Seth Curry scored a season-high 22 points as the Blue Devils (11-1) dominated from start to finish -- and more than earned their lofty ranking, Western Michigan coach Steve Hawkins said.
"It's just kind of like going into a heavyweight bout -- you may get in a punch or two in the early rounds, but as the fight wears on, they just keep wearing you out with those body shots," Hawkins said.
Demetrius Ward added 16 points and Hayden Hoerdemann finished with 12 for Western Michigan (5-8), which entered 6-0 against the current configuration of the ACC. Five of those victories have come against Virginia Tech with the other coming against Clemson.
This time, the Broncos had their four-game winning streak snapped and were denied decisively in their bid to become the second Mid-American Conference school to beat a Mike Krzyzewski-coached Duke team -- and first since Eastern Michigan did it in the 1996 NCAA tournament.
Austin Rivers scored 20 points, Quinn Cook had 16 points and Tyler Thornton added 12 on four 3-pointers to help the Blue Devils win their fourth straight.
"We changed our offense a little bit to go push up the floor a little bit more, and play at a faster pace," Curry said. "And it showed."
The Blue Devils shot 54 percent and hit a season-high 14 3-pointers to complement their 50-28 rebounding advantage.
Duke used a huge early run and a knack for getting to the free-throw line to take a 30-point lead during a 63-point first half -- its highest-scoring half since hitting for 66 in the second half last year against Colgate -- and went on to reach triple digits for the first time this season.
Miles Plumlee had a career-high 15 rebounds and Josh Hairston scored 13 points for the Blue Devils, who faced little resistance in extending a few impressive streaks at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
They won their 42nd in a row at home -- only the 46-game winning streak from 1997-2000 was longer at the venerable arena -- and claimed its 92nd straight victory at Cameron against non-ACC teams.
Curry -- whose nagging ankle injury appears to have healed -- wound up having one of his best days in a Duke uniform, matching the 22 points he scored in last year's home victory over North Carolina. He finished shy of the career-best 35 points he scored against VMI as a freshman at Liberty three years ago before transferring to Duke.
"It's hard work paying off," Curry said. "The last few games, I kind of struggled with my shot, wasn't as aggressive as I should have been, and coach was telling me to hunt my shot and play more aggressive."
The Blue Devils were playing for just the second time in nearly three weeks -- because of final exams and the holiday break -- and first time since a 27-point romp against UNC Greensboro on Dec. 19. The pace picks up in a hurry: They have fewer than 48 hours to prepare for Sunday afternoon's game against Pennsylvania.
That long layoff certainly had no effect on them in this one.
"This shows how focused we were and how focused we are," Rivers said. "It's been a long time off. Instead of coming out rusty and getting back into it, we come out from the get-go."
The Blue Devils took command with an early 32-6 run in which they did some of the things they do best -- find ways to get to the line, and lock down on defense.
Duke had 16 free throws -- making 13 of those -- before Western Michigan even attempted its first foul shot, and by that point the Blue Devils had pushed their lead well into the 20s for good. At halftime, the Broncos had five players with three fouls apiece and Duke had taken 26 free throws to Western Michigan's two.
"What free throws allow you to do is, it allows you to get your defense set," Hawkins said. "We felt that our shot at trying to keep this thing close with the personnel that we had, we had to make them play in the half court. They're still very good at it, but if they get out in transition, they're just superb. ... Our inability to get to the free-throw line allowed them to get out and really run."