Duke streaks toward mark for consecutive conference victories

After one week of play, it's same old story: UNC, Blue Devils alone at top

ACC notebook

January 12, 2000|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

Don't look now, but Duke is closing in on the record for consecutive wins in Atlantic Coast Conference games.

The record of 27 straight was established from February 1962 to February 1964 by Duke, when it featured Art Heyman and Jeff Mullins. N.C. State's regular-season streak of the same length was stopped by Maryland in January 1975, when the great David Thompson was a senior.

The Blue Devils' 80-70 win at Maryland on Sunday was their 24th straight in conference play. By the time it takes the short drive to North Carolina on Feb. 3, No. 6 Duke's streak could be up to 29.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski's team has its conference home opener tonight against Georgia Tech. Duke is at Florida State on Sunday, meets N.C. State at Cameron Indoor Coliseum Jan. 19, goes to Wake Forest on Jan. 22 and is at home against Clemson on Jan. 29.

Living in the moment being one of Krzyzewski's mantras, it's pointless to ask him about the streak, but he did acknowledge the accomplishment.

"I don't even like talking about that," Krzyzewski said. "I've been in the league 20 years, and I know how precious an ACC win is. I feel real fortunate that we've come ready to play every game. That at least gives you a chance. The health of our team has also been good, and over the years we've been fortunate in that regard."

Actually, Elton Brand was on the mend from a broken foot the last time the Blue Devils lost an ACC regular-season game. That came Feb. 5, 1998, when Duke was blown out at North Carolina by a Final Four team that featured Antawn Jamison and Vince Carter.

Duke's average margin of victory during the streak is 20.8 points. An overtime win at Virginia last Wednesday was the closest call, but the Blue Devils showed their mettle in that win and Sunday at Cole Field House, and opponents had better challenge a team using four freshmen in a seven-man rotation before they grow up.

It's business as usual in the ACC, where Duke and No. 13 North Carolina are the only 2-0 teams after one week of play. One of those two has been to the Final Four in 11 of the past 12 years, and despite the nonconference losses they suffered in November and December, that trend could be maintained.

While Maryland coach Gary Williams moved to expand his rotation with the addition of Calvin McCall, Krzyzewski and North Carolina's Bill Guthridge are paring theirs, in the process sitting down prep All-Americans.

Krzyzewski basically went with six players at Maryland. Guthridge has gone to a seven-man rotation, the surprise being Julius Peppers, a 6-foot-6, 280-pound defensive end on the football team who's spelling Brendan Haywood and Kris Lang inside.

Peppers said that the Tar Heels are no longer the softies who got pushed around by Cincinnati and Michigan State, and their offensive performance against N.C. State spoke volumes. North Carolina made 71.1 percent of its field-goal attempts, as Haywood improved his incredible shooting percentage over the past seven games to .870 (40 of 46).

"I've been watching ACC basketball all my life," Wake Forest coach Dave Odom said. "I have to go back a while to see a team execute offensively like North Carolina did against N.C. State."

Cavs coming on

Maryland has the bye on tonight's four-game conference schedule. The most compelling match has Virginia at N.C. State, as two teams that have been conspicuous by their absence from the NCAA tournament recently attempt to get their second ACC victories.

If the Cavaliers can win at the new Entertainment and Sports Arena, something Maryland could not do, it would further accelerate Pete Gillen's rebuilding job in Charlottesville. Virginia followed its overtime heartbreak against Duke with an 18-point rout of Georgia Tech.

Roger Mason, the ACC Rookie of the Week, is a guard out of Good Counsel High in Wheaton. At one time, he wanted to come to Maryland, but the Terps targeted other prospects more closely. The 6-5 slasher made 12 of his 17 shots en route to scoring 36 points last week.

Junior point guard Donald Hand is as erratic as ever, but averaging 15.3 points and 5.1 assists.

"His [Hand's] mentality is to shoot first, and shoot second," Gillen said. "He has to share the ball, become more of a point guard, because we have some other weapons."

Et cetera

There were 101 ballots cast in All-ACC voting last season. Duke swing man Chris Carrawell got eight first-place votes, and one of them was mine. Clemson point guard Will Solomon is the only player in the conference who is averaging more minutes than Carrawell's 34.9. Florida State should move to 2-0 against the hapless Tigers tonight. Never mind. The Seminoles started 5-2 last season, then lost their last nine ACC games.

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