by David Cassilo / @dcassilo
After outscoring the Hurricanes by 13 points in the first half, Duke cruised to an 11-point victory for its 23rd straight victory. The team was once again paced by Nolan Smith, who has risen his game in Irving’s absence. Smith, who scored a season-high 28 points, topped the 20-point mark for the fourth straight game after doing it just twice in the season’s first nine games.
Smith, along with fellow senior Kyle Singler, played a full 40 minutes and has provided the veteran leadership the team has needed.
From The Winston-Salem Journal:
Smith emerged as a one-man wrecking crew late in the first half, scoring 13 consecutive Duke points and extending a two-point lead to 13 at halftime. He totaled a season-high 28 points, with five rebounds, five assists and only two turnovers.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski delivered a rave review: “Nolan was spectacular. … Nolan was an old, really good ACC guard tonight.”
Smith hit nine of 15 shots, four of seven 3-point shots and all six free throws. He also hounded guard Durand Scott, who managed just 10 points for Miami (11-4, 0-1 ACC).
With Irving and Singler making all the headlines early on, Smith flew under the radar. However, he is now emerging as a sleeper Player of the Year candidate in both the conference and the country and has Duke poised for another title run.