No. 4 Duke routs struggling rival UNC, 82-50

DURHAM: Kyle Singler scored 19 of his 25 points in the decisive first half and No. 4 Duke routed North Carolina 82-50 on Saturday night.

Jon Scheyer had 20 points in his final game at Cameron Indoor Stadium for the Blue Devils (26-5, 13-3), who earned their most lopsided home win over their fiercest rival.

They shot nearly 46 percent — 51 percent in a dominant first half — and made eight 3-pointers in beating North Carolina at home for the first time since 2005. Duke clinched a share of its 12th Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season title and wrapped up the No. 1 seed in next week's league tournament.

Freshman John Henson matched a season high with 14 points for the Tar Heels (16-15, 5-11). They endured their worst loss in seven years and had their lowest point total under coach Roy Williams.

Nolan Smith scored 20 points and Brian Zoubek added 13 rebounds for the Blue Devils. They took command with an early 31-8 run, led by 30 in the first half and showed no mercy in polishing off their first sweep of North Carolina since 2004.

In some ways, this result was like so many others here this season. In setting a school record by finishing 17-0 at Cameron, Duke won all but one home game by double figures, and it entered with an average margin of victory here of 26 points. Just as they've done all year, the Blue Devils pounced early and never let up on their overmatched visitor, no matter who that opponent was.

But of course, for the Blue Devils, this one meant so much more — especially after the Tar Heels won their last four visits. North Carolina is the only visiting team in three full years to beat Mike Krzyzewski on the court that bears his nickname, and following last year's victory, some players flashed four fingers as they walked off the floor to mark their fourth win in a row at Cameron.

Already stewing from those defeats — and this week's loss at Maryland that kept them from clinching an outright ACC regular-season title — Duke's "Big Three" made certain from the jump that there wouldn't be a fifth.

In the process, they made the opening half feel like a 20-minute-long burst by the Blue Devils.

Scheyer, Singler and Smith knocked down 3s on three straight trips downcourt to start the overwhelming run that put the Blue Devils in command. That spurt was so one-sided that by the time it ended, Duke had two players — Singler (12) and Smith (10) — who had outscored the Tar Heels (9).

The Blue Devils went up by double figures to stay 6 1/2 minutes into the game, stretched the margin to 20 on Smith's three-point play midway through the half and made it a 30-point game on Smith's free throw in the final minute of the half.

The only question in the second half was whether Duke would administer its most lopsided beating in the history of college basketball's fiercest rivalry: Ultimately, the Blue Devils fell shy of the 35-point drubbing they handed North Carolina in 1964.

Still, it was the Tar Heels' worst loss since a 96-56 loss at Maryland in 2003, and their fewest points since a 60-48 loss to Duke in the 2002 ACC tournament.

The famous faces — Christian Laettner, Arizona Cardinals quarterback Matt Leinart — turned out for this one, and so did someone else who'd still be anonymous except for one incident a few months ago: Brian King, the Presbyterian College fan who was tossed from North Carolina's arena for heckling Deon Thompson during a free-throw attempt.

King, who told The Associated Press that he grew up a Duke fan, said he was invited by a group of Cameron Crazies and showed up — wearing a Presbyterian T-shirt, no less — because he thought things had cooled off enough after the much-publicized flap 8 miles down the road at the Smith Center.

Thompson finished with 11 points for the Tar Heels, who were serenaded by chants of "NIT" throughout and played without freshman guard Leslie McDonald after team officials said he strained his right hamstring during Friday's practice.