Duke's strong finish upends Miss. State

Krzyzewski passes Smith

Michigan State ends run of upstart Vermont, 72-61

Ncaa Regional


March 21, 2005|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,SUN STAFF

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Mississippi State blinked, Duke didn't, and the Blue Devils earned another trip to the Sweet 16 the hard way last night.

Hampered by foul trouble and poor shooting, Duke had to rely on the muscle of Shelden Williams and the scoring power of Daniel Ewing to get past the tenacious Bulldogs, 63-55, in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

The victory sends the top-seeded Blue Devils (27-5) to Texas on Friday for an Austin Regional semifinal against fifth-seeded Michigan State.

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski not only advanced to the Sweet 16 for the eighth straight year, he also passed North Carolina icon Dean Smith in career tournament victories with his 66th.

"It's an honor to be mentioned with Dean," said Krzyzewski, almost giddy over the performance of his team. "It's always an honor."

In a grinding, physical game, the Blue Devils gave up 22 fouls to the Bulldogs and saw both Williams and Shavlik Randolph wrestle with foul trouble in the second half.

Williams had two fouls in the first half and still played 16 minutes. He picked up his third less than two minutes into the second half but didn't leave the game again or pick up his fourth. When Duke needed him most, he came up big.

Mississippi State (23-11) rallied from an eight-point halftime deficit to forge a 50-50 tie with 5:36 to play. Two Duke possessions later, J. J. Redick missed a three-pointer, but Williams got the rebound and powered it back for the go-ahead field goal.

Fouled in the process, Williams converted that for a 53-50 lead. Duke never trailed after that.

Williams finished with 13 points, 15 rebounds and three blocked shots to win the battle inside against Mississippi State's Lawrence Roberts, who had 17 points and 11 rebounds but hit only five of 18 shots.

The Bulldogs' power game never got untracked. Aside from Roberts' struggles, 7-foot Marcus Campbell, who was a force in Friday's win over Stanford, was a non-factor against Duke. He played just six minutes because of foul trouble and contributed only four points and two rebounds.

That helped Duke to a 43-39 advantage on the boards against a team whose strength is rebounding. It was critical because Duke hit only 38 percent of its shots.

"The story of the game was that we were able to rebound with them and were able to play good defense," Krzyzewski said.

Ewing made a major contribution with 22 points in 39 minutes on a night when Redick's jump shot was still missing in action. Redick had 16 points on 5-for-17 shooting but also had five turnovers.

In fact, Ewing bailed out Redick at a key point in the game. With 1:45 left and Duke up 55-53, Redick stole the ball from Mississippi State's Gary Ervin at midcourt but his layup attempt was blocked.

Ewing closed on the play, retrieved the ball and dropped it in for a four-point lead. He then hit a running one-hander at 1:01 and made two free throws with 18.1 seconds left to secure the victory.

"Ewing is the guy down the stretch that really hurt us," Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury said. "We give Duke a lot of credit. It seems like every big play that had to be made down the stretch, they made. That's why they are so successful."

Worcester, Mass.

Michigan State 72, Vermont 61: Maurice Ager scored 19 points and Paul Davis had 11 points and 14 rebounds to lead the Spartans (24-6) to a victory over the Catamounts (25-7) in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Taylor Coppenrath went into a shooting slump -- making 5 of 23 shots -- and Michigan State proved too fast in transition for the America East champions.

That gave Michigan State coach Tom Izzo a record of 21-6 in the tournament -- a percentage second among active coaches to Krzyzewski.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Regional highlights

Top performer: Duke's Daniel Ewing scored 22 points as the top-seeded Blue Devils held off Mississippi State, 63-55.

Big surprise: Duke advanced to the Sweet 16 for the eighth consecutive year despite ACC Player of the Year J.J. Redick shooting a combined 6-for-24 and scoring a total of 23 points in the first two games.

He said it: "It was the greatest ride that I could ever, ever have had. You know you're in a very special place when your realities outweigh your dreams. And that's where I am." - Vermont coach Tom Brennan after coaching his last game in yesterday's loss to Michigan State.

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