Cook leads No. 7 Duke past UNC Greensboro, 90-63

Posted Dec. 19, 2011, at 10:07 p.m.

DURHAM, N.C. — Playing its only game in nearly three weeks, No. 7 Duke refused to let it turn into one to forget.

Freshman Quinn Cook scored all of his season-high 14 points in the second half of the Blue Devils’ 90-63 rout of UNC Greensboro on Monday night.

Mason Plumlee had 15 points and 13 rebounds and Austin Rivers added 14 points for Duke (10-1), which hadn’t played since Dec. 10 and which won’t play again until Dec. 30.

“We didn’t want to be laying on a bad win,” Rivers said. “We wanted to leave a message and go into the break with good spirits.”

The Blue Devils shot 54 percent from the field, shook off a sluggish start and overcame 18 turnovers to win their third straight since the one-sided loss at No. 2 Ohio State.

Kyle Randall scored 12 points for the Spartans (2-10), who made things interesting early but shot just 34.5 percent in the second half and went on to their seventh straight loss. The last two have come under interim coach Wes Miller, a former North Carolina guard who took over last week.

“This isn’t an ideal situation to get put into a head coaching chair,” Miller said. “When you have guys in the locker room that come together through adversity, it makes it easy on you as a coach.”

Duke needed an 18-4 run late in the first half to take the lead for good. The Blue Devils then pulled away by opening the second half with a 29-8 burst that pushed the lead into the 30s.

Cook — who was 6 for 6 from the field after halftime — scored 11 points during the run, and his 3-pointer with 7½ minutes left capped the spurt and made it 73-42.

Andre Dawkins finished with 11 points, Ryan Kelly added 10 and Miles Plumlee had 13 rebounds to help the Blue Devils extend a few impressive streaks.

They won their 41st straight game at Cameron Indoor Stadium — matching the second-longest streak in school history — while claiming their 91st consecutive home victory against nonconference teams and their 85th in a row here against unranked opponents.

Their next chance to extend those streaks won’t come for another week-and-a-half, when Western Michigan comes to Cameron.

“We haven’t had that long of a stretch without a game, and I think it showed in the first couple of minutes,” Mason Plumlee said.

Derrell Armstrong scored 11 points and Aaron Brackett finished with 10 for UNC Greensboro.

Miller — who stepped in after Mike Dement resigned under pressure — played for the Tar Heels from 2003-07 and is the youngest coach in Division I. His North Carolina teams won their last two visits to Cameron, but he found out firsthand just how tough it is for UNC Greensboro to beat the Blue Devils.

“In the first half, we were playing well, and when things are going good, it’s easy to stick together and be bought into what you’re doing,” Miller said. “Tonight in the second half, they played really well, and the game got away from us.”

The Spartans have never defeated them, losing the previous nine matchups by an average of nearly 40 points. To have any chance at pulling the season’s biggest upset, they needed Duke to be rusty following extended time off for final exams.

And for about 15 minutes, that’s exactly what happened.

UNC Greensboro led for a sizeable chunk of a disjointed first half in which there were a combined 24 fouls called and 35 free throws attempted. The Spartans forced Duke into 11 turnovers in the first 20 minutes and made 14 of their first 27 shots before Duke finally got things rolling.

The Blue Devils hit 3s on three consecutive trips and Rivers had two of them — including the one that capped the run and made it 39-28. Kelly’s 3 with 35 seconds left in the half stretched it to 45-34 and pushed the lead into double figures for good.

“We talk about it all the time. You’ve got to be really ready, and I don’t think we were as ready as we needed to be,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “And then we got ready.”

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