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December 9, 2006Duke put together one of its finest 40 minute efforts of the season Saturday as the Blue Devils used career scoring highs from DeMarcus Nelson and Jon Scheyer to roll past George Mason 69-53 at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Duke's struggling offense revived thanks to Nelson and Scheyer's lethally efficient offensive production, as well a terrific all around game from sophomore big man Josh McRoberts.
Nelson and Scheyer combined to make 14 of 22 shots from the floor, including 7-11 from three point range while McRoberts issued a game high eight assists to help the Blue Devils find another gear offensively.
The best news of all for Duke though is that the Blue Devils maintained their torrid defensive play to go along with the improved offense.
The Blue Devils shut down the three point line most of the day and yielded only 22 first half points as Duke built a 33-22 halftime margin.
Scheyer, Nelson, and McRoberts all helped ignite Duke's strong first half performance.
Scheyer nailed a three pointer just 10 seconds into the game to get Duke on the board, and Nelson followed with a trey of his own less than 45 seconds later to immediately push Duke out front 6-0.
McRoberts wowed the crowd with a pair of assists in the early going.
Leading 6-2, McRoberts took a pass in the low post, hesitated momentarily and then whipped a behind the back pass to Lance Thomas, who scored a layup and got fouled as he cut to the rim on the back side.
A second three pointer by Nelson made it 11-5 Duke, but it was McRoberts' steal at the 10:07 mark of the first half and subsequent fast break alley-oop pass to Nelson that really seemed to indicate that Duke was on its way to a very impressive performance.
George Mason hung around despite Duke's smothering defense, but a pair of three pointers from Greg Paulus helped keep the Patriots safely in the rearview mirror.
Duke's lead grew to as many as 17 in the second half.
Nelson scored the first seven Duke points of the second half to give the Devils a 40-25 margin.
Scheyer followed that Nelson streak by scoring eight straight Duke points.
By the time Scheyer hit two out of three free throws after being fouled on a three point attempt, Duke's lead stood at 57-40 inside 10 minutes to play.
The Patriots made one final push to draw within 10 points, but another Scheyer three pointer effectively put the game away with 6:25 to play.
Even though the scoring column was dominated by Nelson and Scheyer, the win was the result of a pretty balanced effort.
Not only did McRoberts hand out eight assists but he also led the team with eight rebounds.
David McClure pulled down five big rebounds, including one late in the game to help fend off George Mason's final rally when he came up with a loose ball that nearly cost him his head in the battle for the ball.
Though Gerald Henderson scored just four points, two of them will go on the season highlight reel. Henderson cut baseline to the rim midway through the second half, and after taking a feed from McRoberts, elevated quickly for a monstrous reverse slam.
Duke's defense held Mason to just 41.5 percent shooting and forced 15 Patriot turnovers.
The Blue Devils were much better at securing the ball. Duke entered the game averaging nearly 18 turnovers per contest, but it had just 11 against George Mason while amassing 21 assists.
Duke now has a 10 day break for final exams before returning to action against Kent State on December 19th.