Blue Devils make D. Hill disappear NCAA TOURNAMENT

April 03, 1994|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Sun Staff Writer

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- In addition to strong fundamentals, Duke's talents apparently also include a little magic, because last night the Blue Devils made a 286-pound man disappear.

For 24 minutes of its NCAA semifinal against Florida, Duke was bedeviled by Dametri Hill, the Gators' 6-foot-7, 286-pound sophomore forward. When he scored in close with 16:23 left, Florida had a 49-39 lead and Hill had 14 points.

In the final 13:37, Hill was limited to one basket. He had three follow shots rim out and missed a front end of a one-and-one free-throw situation with 7:55 to go, when Duke was making a run that developed into a 70-65 victory.

"They [Duke] started running both post players at me, and my shots weren't falling," said Hill, who nonetheless bettered both of his averages with totals of 16 points and nine rebounds. "They were forcing me to get rid of the ball, and that hurt us. They did a very good job defensively on me in the second half."

Hill made half of his shots in the first half, when "Dameat Hook," the baby hook shot that uses his girth by keeping defenders away from the ball, was falling. In the second half, when Cherokee Parks and Antonio Lang paid closer attention and he made only three of 11 shots, Hill was demoralized.

The 26 points the Gators scored in the second half were a season low.

Hill is one of the reasons Florida has been accused of winning ugly, but his game -- and not so much his waistline -- grew this season. He scored a total of 17 points and had nine rebounds in 16 games as a freshman, and came into last night's game with averages of 12.6 points and 4.8 rebounds.

Hill is one of four starting underclassmen (the others are junior guard Dan Cross, junior forward Andrew DeClercq and sophomore forward Brian Thompson) who next year will try to give the NCAA title game the all-Southeastern Conference flavor that seemed a real possibility when DeClercq's jumper made it a 13-point lead with 18:15 to go.

"What they did this year is outstanding," said Florida coach Lon Kruger, whose team was seeded third in the East Region. "They are going to be remembered for a long time."

While Florida's Hill fell off down the stretch, Duke's version came through with a typically clutch performance. Forward Grant Hill, one of three Blue Devil seniors who will play in their third NCAA title game tomorrow, will be there in part because he matched Florida in the final 7:38, as both scored seven points.

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