Duke back on the brink Brand, Blue Devils top Syracuse, 80-67, move 1 win from Final Four, Freshman's 20 lead way

19-3 run in 2nd half repels Orange rally

March 21, 1998|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- If a broken foot didn't end Elton Brand's freshman season at Duke, did you really think Syracuse would?

It was Brand's strength and savvy that made him a phenom back in December, but his injury appeared to end both his breakthrough season and any realistic chance the Blue Devils had of contending for a national championship.

But Brand is back at full strength, and so apparently is Duke.

With 20 points and 14 rebounds, Brand led the top-seeded Blue Devils (32-3) past the fifth-seeded Orangemen, 80-67, last night in the NCAA South Regional semifinals before a regional record crowd of 40,589 at Tropicana Field.

Duke will play second-seeded Kentucky tomorrow for a spot in next weekend's Final Four.

Along with reserves William Avery and Shane Battier, Brand led Duke on a game-breaking 19-3 run after Syracuse had come from a 10-point halftime deficit to tie the game at 49. The three freshmen accounted for the first 11 points in the run.

"We're going to be the leaders next year as sophomores, so we're going to get used to this experience and get better," said Brand, a 6-foot-8, 250-pound center who hit 10 of 14 shots. "My job was to get a lot of rebounds and attack them inside."

Said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski: "Rebounding was critical [47-35 edge for the Blue Devils], especially on the offensive boards, and Elton and Shane were very active. William came in and gave us a big lift. I thought his play was the most critical aspect of the game."

The play of the freshmen, who combined to hit 20 of 27 shots, couldn't have come at a better time, because seniors Roshown McLeod and Steve Wojciechowski, as well as junior Trajan Langdon, all struggled. The three combined for only 19 points on 5-for-26 shooting.

McLeod, Duke's leading scorer and a first-team all-Atlantic Coast Conference player, finished with six points on 2-for-9 shooting. Wojciechowski was in foul trouble, finishing with just two assists and two turnovers. Langdon missed 11 of 13 shots, including seven of eight three-point tries.

"We were concentrating on stopping them main guys, we wanted the other guys to make great plays and they did," said Syracuse guard Marius Janulis. Fellow senior Todd Burgan led the Orangemen with 20 points, including 17 in the second half.

The victory moved the Blue Devils into their first regional final since 1994, when they went on to lose in the national championship game to Arkansas.

Battier, considered more of a defensive stopper, finished with 14 points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots. Avery, who came in early after Wojciechowski picked up two quick fouls, scored 11 points and had six assists and three steals, creating all kinds of havoc for Syracuse (26-9).

"When the game got tight, those guys made big play after big play," said Wojciechowski, the senior from Severna Park. "At this point, they're just as experienced as Trajan and me."

After Syracuse made a run of nine straight points to tie, the Orangemen went more than 7 1/2 minutes without scoring a field goal. A dunk by Brand helped the Blue Devils open a 68-52 lead and Syracuse never got closer than nine after that.

"He and Battier did a good job doing all the dirty work," said Syracuse assistant Louis Orr. "We did a good job on the perimeter guys, but those guys were very aggressive and they hurt us. That's what they bring to the table."

It was Brand's best overall game since he broke his foot during a practice in mid-December. Expected not to be ready until next season, Brand was helped by some high-tech rehabilitation. He returned for last month's game against UCLA, but didn't display his agility again until last night.

"It's a great feeling," he said. "I couldn't think of any place in the world I'd rather be."

Neither could Duke.

Back in a regional final, one game away from another Final Four.

SYRACUSE -- Burgan 7-16 2-3 20, Blackwell 4-13 3-6 11, Thomas 2-5 5-8 9, Hart 6-11 2-2 15, Janulis 1-7 0-0 3, Campbell 0-0 0-0 0, Griffin 3-6 0-0 6, Mallin 0-0 0-0 0, Brown 0-0 0-0 0, Ovcina 1-5 1-2 3, Frazier 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-63 13-21 67.

DUKE -- Carrawell 4-9 2-4 10, Brand 10-14 0-2 20, McLeod 2-9 2-4 6, Wojciechowski 1-4 3-4 6, Langdon 2-13 2-2 7, Avery 4-6 0-0 11, Singleton 0-0 0-0 0, Chappelle 2-3 0-0 6, Heaps 0-0 0-0 0, Simpson 0-0 0-0 0, Battier 6-7 2-3 14, Burgess 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 31-65 11-19 80.

Halftime--Duke 40-30. 3-point goals--Syr. 6-21 (Burgan 4-7, Hart 1-4, Janulis 1-5, Griffin 0-1, Blackwell 0-2, Ovcina 0-2), Duke 7-22 (Avery 3-5, Chappelle 2-2, Wojciechowski 1-4, Langdon 1-8, Carrawell 0-1, McLeod 0-2). Fouled out--Janulis. Rebounds--Syr. 35 (Burgan 10), Duke 47 (Brand 14). Assists--Syr. 10 (Blackwell, Hart 3), Duke 16 (Avery 6). Total fouls--Syr. 18, Duke 18. A--40,589.

NCAA tournament

Yesterday's results

South semifinals

At St. Petersburg, Fla.

Duke 80, Syracuse 67

Kentucky 94, UCLA 68

Midwest semifinals

At St. Louis

Stanford 67, Purdue 59

R. Island 74, Valparaiso 68

Today's games

East final

At Greensboro, N.C.

North Carolina (33-3) vs. Connecticut (32-4), 6 p.m., chs. 13, 9

West final

At Anaheim, Calif.

Utah (28-3) vs Arizona (30-4), 3: 30 p.m., chs. 13, 9

Inside

Women: Tennessee presses the issue. 7c

East: Point guard matchup is pivotal. 8c

West: Opposites attract in final matchup. 8c

South: Kentucky rolls past UCLA. 9c

Midwest: Stanford bench bounces Purdue. 9c

Brand, Blue Devils top Syracuse, 80-67, move 1 win from Final Four

Freshman's 20 lead way

19-3 run in 2nd half repels Orange rally

Pub Date: 3/21/98

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