GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Their mascot came out wearing a pair of oversized boxing gloves, sort of like a humpbacked Rocky Balboa. But, in the end, it was Campbell University's Fighting Camels who wound up getting sent to the canvas.
Fulfilling their promise to show no mercy against their overmatched NCAA East Regional opponent, the top-seeded Duke Blue Devils (29-2) jumped out to a 20-point halftime lead and cruised to an 82-56 win over Campbell before a sellout crowd of 15,800 at the Greensboro Coliseum. Duke advanced to tomorrow's second-round game against Iowa, which beat Texas, Campbell, an NCAA participant by way of its Big South tournament championship, shot a season-low 28.2 percent for the game. That was an improvement over the first half, when the Fighting Camels (19-12) shot 18.8 percent to trail 36-16 at halftime.
Despite the big mismatch (Campbell had lost by 38 to the same East Carolina team that Duke beat by 28), the Fighting Camels walked off the court with respect from their opponents for their spirited effort the entire game. And the crowd especially got behind the hot shooting of Campbell forward Mark Mocnik, who hit seven of 13 three-pointers and led all scorers with 29.
"Mocnik put on a tremendous display," said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski. "I think we played really hard. They put us in a position where we had to play well and play hard."
It was the defending national champions who played better, scoring the game's first eight points before Mocnik put his team on the scoreboard with a three-pointer. Campbell's theme coming into the game was "run the system," but the players found it difficult against the bigger and stronger Blue Devils.
"We knew the train was coming, but we just couldn't stop it," said Campbell coach Billy Lee. "They're a great defensive team. Even when we got good shots, we were intimidated."
The Blue Devils looked to put the game away at the start of the second half, going on an 8-2 run capped by Brian Davis' jumper that gave Duke a 44-18 lead. But the Campbell players never stopped trying and scored the next eight points to pull to within 44-26.
Christian Laettner responded to that run with seven straight points -- including two dunks -- to increase the Duke lead to 51-26. But Campbell, playing a lot looser in the second half, got eight points -- including two three-pointers -- by Mocnik during a 13-6 run that pulled the Fighting Camels within 18.
Campbell got as close as 17 after a layup by Mocnik made it 62-45 with 8:34 left. But Duke outscored Campbell 20-11 the rest of the way for the win.
Despite its second worst loss of the season, Campbell got the respect of the sellout crowd, who gave the Fighting Camels an ovation as they walked off the court.
"Being new to the tournament was against us, and we were kind of slow at the start," said Campbell guard Steve Martin. "Even if we didn't win, we wanted to make a statement for Campbell by playing hard. I think we did that."
And so did top-ranked Duke, which wanted to get focused for its championship run. In winning by 26, the Blue Devils avoided the near embarrassment of their first-round game here six years ago, when they barely got by Mississippi Valley State, 85-78.
"It felt really good to get the tournament under way," said Thomas Hill, who scored 20 in 25 minutes for Duke. "They played us hard, but we expected that because they had nothing to lose."
Campbell gained an admirer in Krzyzewski.
"We're really pleased to advance," Krzyzewski said. "And we would like to congratulate Campbell. They did themselves proud in representing their school tonight."
And while doing themselves proud, the Fighting Camels enjoyed the limelight that went along with playing the nation's top-ranked team. It's an experience that none of them will soon forget.
"When we came out half the crowd was cheering for us, and half for Duke. It was great," Mocnik said. "I wish we had played another [Atlantic Coast Conference] school this season. It was a great experience."
NOTES: Campbell out-rebounded Duke 43-40, getting 22 on the offensive end. . . . Laettner's 22 points moved him into fourth place on the NCAA tournament scoring list (behind Bill Bradley, Lew Alcindor and Glen Rice) with 314. . . . Campbell will be joined in the Big South next year by Towson State and UMBC.
YESTERDAY'S RESULTS Seton Hall 78, La Salle 76
Missouri 89, West Virginia 78
Duke 82, Campbell 56
Iowa 98, Texas 92
Kentucky (26-6) vs. Old Dominion (15-14), 12:35 p.m.
N.C. Charlotte (23-8) vs. Iowa State (20-12), 30 minutes after
Massachusetts (28-4) vs. Fordham (18-12), 7:40 p.m.
Syracuse (21-9) vs. Princeton (22-5), 30 minutes after, Ch. 11, 9
YESTERDAY'S RESULTS North Carolina 68, Miami, Ohio 63
Alabama 80, Stanford 75
Ohio State 83, Miss. Val. St. 56
Connecticut 86, Nebraska 65
TODAY'S GAMES R St. John's (19-10) vs. Tulane (21-8), 12:15 p.m., Ch. 11, 9
Oklahoma State (26-7) vs. Georgia Southern (25-5), 30 minutes after
Michigan (20-8) vs. Temple (17-12), 7:35 p.m.
PD Arizona (24-6) vs. East Tennessee State (23-6), 30 minutes after
YESTERDAY'S RESULTS Arkansas 80, Murray State 69
Memphis State 80, Pepperdine 70
Georgia Tech 65, Houston 60
Southern Cal. 84, NE Louisiana 54
TODAY'S GAMES Michigan State (21-7) vs. Southwest Missouri State (23-7), 12:25 Cincinnati (25-4) vs. Delaware (27-3), 30 minutes after
Kansas (26-4) vs. Howard (17-13), 8:05 p.m., Ch. 11, 9
L Evansville (24-5) vs. Texas-El Paso (25-6), 30 minutes after
YESTERDAY'S RESULTS Georgetown 75, South Florida 60
Florida State 78, Montana 68
LSU 94, Brigham Young 83
Indiana 94, Eastern Illinois 55
DePaul (20-8) vs. New Mexico State (23-7), 2:45 p.m., Ch. 11, 9
Oklahoma (21-8) vs. Southwestern Louisiana (20-10), 30 minutes after
Louisville (18-10) vs. Wake Forest (17-11), 8:10 p.m., Ch. 11, 9
G; UCLA (25-4) vs. Robert Morris (19-11), 30 minutes after