Hill carries Duke past Mich. State, 85-74 NCAA TOURNAMENT

March 21, 1994|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Sun Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- It might not be obvious by the box score, but yesterday's second-round NCAA tournament game between Duke and Michigan State came down to a glorified game of one-on-one.

All-American Grant Hill led the second-seeded Blue Devils (25-5) to an 85-74 victory and into a third-round East Regional matchup against surprising -- and suddenly imposing -- Marquette on Thursday in Knoxville, Tenn.

Michigan State star Shawn Respert was not a factor until the seventh-seeded Spartans were playing catch-up in the final minutes.

Hill scored a game-high 25 points to advance to the Sweet 16 and, soon thereafter, into the NBA. Respert was held scoreless for the first 23 minutes and presented his performance in the tournament as a strong argument against entering the draft a year early.

"You have to give Duke credit for playing the type of defense that they did," a dejected Respert said. "They did a great job, especially with such a short time to prepare for us.

"We didn't play as well as we wanted to and I contributed a great deal to that. I'm a big part of us trying to take it to them. Me being so tentative in the first half -- that's one of the reasons we played so poorly."

Give some credit for that to Hill and the Blue Devils' switching defense. The game plan was focused on stopping Respert, and it succeeded brilliantly until he got loose for 22 second-half points.

"He's tough to guard because they set a lot of screens," Hill said. "It was really a case of Respert awareness out there. Not just me. Everybody did a great job of containing Shawn Respert."

The Blue Devils used a balanced scoring attack to defeat Texas Southern in the first round, but Hill and center Cherokee Parks (24 points) accounted for most of Duke's offense yesterday.

"They do so many things for Shawn that Grant has to be worn out chasing him all over the place," said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski. "Grant having that defensive assignment and scoring the points that he did was just outstanding."

Duke recovered from an early seven-point deficit with an 11-0 run midway through the first half and never gave up the lead. Hill's steady performance kept the Spartans on the defensive, but Michigan State cut the deficit to four at the half and stayed within range of an upset until the final minutes.

Respert scored his first points with 16:49 remaining in the game, but carried the Spartans' offense the rest of the way -- scoring 18 points in the final 8 1/2 minutes.

"I think it's a tribute to Shawn to have such a great second half after having such a bad first half," said Spartans coach Jud Heathcote, whose team finished 20-12.

Respert didn't see it that way. He took his inconsistent performance as evidence that he isn't quite ready for prime time. He has been weighing the possibility of entering the NBA draft, but seemed to be leaning against it last night.

"If I had even an average first half, we might have pulled this one out," he said. "These last two games are proof that I'm not ready [for the NBA]. I'm not able to take control of a game the way Grant Hill did today. It might be better to go a year late than a year early."

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