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They certainly didn’t need him against the winless Spartans, who offered little resistance in falling to 0-3 against No. 1 teams in the program’s history.

“I wished we could have given them a little bit better fight, a little bit better game,” Dement said.

Duke opened the game on a 15-2 run, went up by double figures to stay roughly 6½ minutes in, and outscored UNC Greensboro 22-7 midway through the half to open up a permanent 20-point lead. Singler’s jumper in traffic with about 7:15 left made it 39-15 and Smith’s fast-break dunk roughly 5 minutes later gave the Blue Devils their largest lead of the half, 49-24.

Duke’s 53 first-half points were a season high, and by the break, Smith was two points shy of his season high. He finished three away from the career-best 29 points he scored against Baylor in the South Regional final last March. Smith made it a 30-point game when his layup with 14 minutes left pushed it to 71-40.

“I think knowing what was at stake, I wanted to be a little more aggressive, Kyle wanted to be a little more aggressive,” Smith said. “Coach gives us so much, and he always has our back. I think both of us, in the backs of our minds, we wanted to have Coach’s back tonight.”

Aaron Brackett had 14 points to lead UNC Greensboro (0-12). The Spartans previously fell to top-ranked Duke teams in 1997 and 2005, dropped to 0-9 all-time against the Blue Devils and have just one win against an ACC school.

“A lot of irony from my standpoint, to get involved with this game,” said Dement, a member of Krzyzewski’s staff from 1982-83. “All of us who grew up in North Carolina, as younger guys and as coaches, we all studied Dean Smith. We read his books and copied him. … It was a lot of irony that came into this, but a lot of reflection, too.”