GREENSBORO, N.C. -- After getting blown out by Duke in the second round of last year's NCAA tournament, the Iowa Hawkeyes had promised to make a better showing. But playing in a hostile environment that was virtually a Duke home game, Iowa fell apart.
Two days after scoring 98 points and shooting 71.4 percent in a half, the Hawkeyes could barely find the basket against a suffocating Duke defense in yesterday's 75-62 loss before a sellout crowd at the Greensboro Coliseum.
Duke (30-2) built leads of as many as 26 points in the first half and regrouped after an Iowa rally cut the deficit to eight in the second half. It was Duke's ninth straight win, advancing the Blue Devils to Thursday's East Regional semifinal against Seton Hall.
"It was just not an environment in which to compete against anybody, never mind the defending national champs," said Iowa coach Tom Davis, on playing on what was virtually a Duke home court. "We just got disrupted in the first half."
That was a surprise for a team that felt it had improved from a year ago, when the same players lost to Duke by 15. But after getting crushed again, the Hawkeyes were even more impressed by Duke.
"I don't know if they're better, but they're smarter and more solid," said Iowa's 6-foot-10 center, Acie Earl, who scored 19 points but didn't get his first field goal until there were almost 14 minutes gone. "If there is a drop-off, it's not by much."
Especially not defensively, where Duke's pressure man-to-man forced five turnovers and limited Iowa to one field goal in the first dTC nine minutes while the Blue Devils ran out to a 21-5 lead.
After two free throws by Bobby Hurley with 3:26 left in the half, the Hawkeyes were down by 26 points and were forced to endure the ultimate insult of this NCAA tournament from the Duke fans, who chanted, "Campbell's better, Campbell's better . . ."
Despite shooting 37.8 percent in the first half, Duke used its advantage on the offensive boards (14, which led to 17 second-chance points) to take a 48-24 halftime lead. Iowa
started the game physically, but no starter besides Earl had a rebound in the first half.
"I don't know if we were intimidated as much as we were just out of our game plan," said Iowa forward Chris Street, whose team committed 13 first-half turnovers.
Iowa regrouped in the second half, with Davis apparently telling the team to get the ball inside. With Street and Earl scoring up close, Iowa opened the half with a 12-4 run that cut the lead to 52-36.
A 7-1 Duke run increased the lead to 59-37 lead, but then the Hawkeyes went to their full-court press. Uncharacteristically, the Blue Devils committed four turnovers during the 14-0 Iowa run that was capped by a layup by Wade Lookingbill that pulled the Hawkeyes to within 59-51 with 7:59 left.
"They came back like we expected and showed that they were a very good team," said Duke center Christian Laettner. "We just got a timeout and got regrouped."
That meant getting the ball inside to Laettner, who was fouled on Duke's first possession after the timeout and made two free throws that ended the Iowa run. The Hawkeyes made one of five shots and committed two turnovers on their next seven possessions and, with Duke in the midst of an 11-2 run that increased the lead to 70-53, the game was pretty much over.