INDIANAPOLIS - Mike Krzyzewski tried to take his Duke basketball team on a trip down memory lane in yesterday's opening round game of the NCAA tournament Southeast Regional at the RCA Dome.
But instead of reliving 1991, when a dominant team won here for the first of its back-to-back national championships, the Blue Devils simply relived the final week of their current, injury-battered season.
The result was a 75-60 pounding at the hands and feet of Eastern Michigan, which moved into tomorrow's second round against top-seeded Connecticut.
"That old expression, 'The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak,' I think it applies to my team," said Krzyzewski.
Another expression was also applicable: You can't stop what you can't see. Earl Boykins, Eastern Michigan's whippet-like, 5-foot-5 point guard, dominated whomever the Blue Devils threw at him.
Boykins scored 23 points, 10 in the last seven minutes, as the Eagles broke open the game. After seeing a 10-point lead cut to 52-46 and calling timeout with 7: 03 to play, Eastern Michigan (25-5) scored on six straight possessions to double the lead.
"It was very difficult," Duke senior guard Chris Collins said of his matchup with Boykins. "I knew I wasn't going to put full-court pressure on him. I knew I had to make him beat us with jump shots, and he did."
It didn't help that Collins was coming off an ankle injury and feeling the effects of a recent bout with the flu, or that his backup, sophomore Steve Wojciechowski from Baltimore's Cardinal Gibbons, played only three minutes because of a badly sprained ankle.
Not that it would have mattered.
"I don't think any 6-3 guard can stop me," said Boykins, who also had five assists and four steals.
It wasn't just Boykins who bothered Duke (18-13), which lost a first-round NCAA tournament game for the first time since 1955. Senior guard Brian Tolbert, who made only one of his first eight shots and three of 11 in a 26-26 first half, finished with 20 points on 8-for-18 shooting. Sophomore forward Derrick Dial added 10 of his 12 points in the second half.
After trailing 15-8 early in the game, the Eagles made a discovery that most Atlantic Coast Conference teams have made the past two years. They weren't playing the Duke team that went to the Final Four seven times in nine years, the team that beat Kansas here in 1991 for the NCAA championship and Michigan in Minneapolis the next season.
"I wouldn't say we were in awe of them, but we were looking at the Duke on their shirts instead of the guys in the shirts," said Tolbert. "Once we played the guys in the shirts, it was a different story."
Said Duke center Greg Newton, who, along with junior guard Jeff Capel, led the Blue Devils with 15 points, "With a lot of teams, that's all they need. Once a team realizes they can play with us, their confidence grows. That's what happened today."
Asked if Eastern Michigan has a chance to beat Connecticut (31-2), Krzyzewski said: "They have a chance because they can handle the ball well and they shoot well [20 of 29 in the second half] and today they rebounded well."
Miss. State 58, VCU 51
Bernard Hopkins and his Virginia Commonwealth teammates couldn't hit the broad side of a dome the RCA Dome for the first 25 minutes of their first-round game against Mississippi State.
The 11th-seeded Rams (24-9) missed 25 of 32 shots in the first half, and 31 of their first 39 from the field. They went through a couple of horrendous scoring droughts. Yet VCU nearly pulled off an upset against the team that beat Kentucky in last week's SEC tournament.
Hopkins, the burly senior forward from Baltimore County's Overlea High, led VCU back from a 10-point deficit and into the lead with a little over six minutes left. But the Rams couldn't sustain it, and with the return of center Erik Dampier from foul trouble, the Bulldogs came back to win.
"If we could have dropped a few more shots at the beginning of the game, we would have won," said Hopkins, who missed eight of his first 12 shots including a wide-open dunk before finishing nine of 20 for a game-high 22 points and 11 rebounds. "I think we beat ourselves more than they beat us."
UConn 68, Colgate 59
The Huskies built a 22-point lead before holding off No. 16 seed Colgate of the Patriot League.
The Huskies were led by guards Ray Allen (24 points) and Doron Sheffer (19 points), but the victory might have been costly. Point guard Ricky Moore, who played a key role in Connecticut's Big East tournament championship suffered a recurrence of a separated shoulder and could miss tomorrow's game.
Sophomore center Adonal Foyle led Colgate (15-15) with 21 points, 14 rebounds and six blocked shots.
Pub Date: 3/15/96