In The Paint

SI.com's All-American Hoops Blog

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Duke has changed. 

Heading into the season, the top storylines surrounding the Blue Devils were Singler's extra 20 pounds and Nolan Smith's new role at starting point guard. But now, as Duke sits comfortably at No. 3 in the AP polls (maybe even higher come Monday), it's clear Mike Krzyzewski's squad has changed in more ways than "poundage" and a new lineup.

As SI.com's Luke Winn and Seth Davis have pointed out, the biggest asset for Duke so far this is season has been its defense. According to Ken Pomeroy's ratings, the Blue Devils are ranked second in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency, meaning, in short, they've clamped down on their own end of the floor. Last year, they were ranked ninth in defensive efficiency.

While Singler has been the balanced force for the Blue Devils on both ends, leading the team in scoring (16.9 ppg) and rebounding (7.9) heading into Saturday's game against No. 13 Georgetown, Henderson has been giving his teammates a lesson in explosiveness.

While his stats have shown marked improvement over last season -- his success from behind the three-point arc has jumped from nearly 32 percent to now 43.2 percent, he's shooting .807 from the charity stripe after entering the season with a career .657 and in Duke's previous four games, he averaged 6.8 rebounds and 17.5 points a game -- his true value can be seen in those key stretches that allow Duke to break away when the game gets tight.

One of those moments was when about 4:30 remained in the first half against Georgetown. After knocking down four consecutive buckets -- one of which was a massive dunk -- Henderson added two more threes to stretch a three-point lead to a score of 38-29 in Duke's favor.  The Blue Devils held on until the game's final buzzer for a 76-67 win over the Hoyas.

In the second half, to live up to the hype surrounding his extra muscle and to carry out the Blue Devils' dominance against the Hoyas, Singler took over inside, grabbing 11 boards in the half.

Singler posted 15 points and 16 rebounds - his second straight double-double -- and Henderson finished with a game-high 23 points in the win. 

To Sidney Lowe and his N.C. State Wolfpack, next Tuesday looks grim.

 

 

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