UNC reigns, but Duke drops

Mich. State eliminates Blue Devils by 78-68

Austin

Ncaa Tournament

March 26, 2005|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

AUSTIN, Texas - They had talked all season about how their conditioning was going to make up for a lack of depth. They had proved all season that what this Duke team lacked in numbers, and possibly in talent, it made up for in heart.

The top-seeded Blue Devils finally ran out of bodies - one in particular - and eventually ran out of time, losing to fifth-seeded Michigan State, 78-68, in the NCAA tournament regional semifinals here last night at the Erwin Center.

Foul trouble on Shelden Williams in the second half curtailed any chance of a comeback by the Blue Devils, and when the junior center fouled out with three minutes to go, it pretty much ended Duke's season.

A well-executed head fake by Michigan State center Paul Davis to draw the fifth foul on Williams and the three-point play that resulted gave the Spartans a 69-63 lead. The Blue Devils got no closer than four points after that.

The win - the first for Spartans coach Tom Izzo over Duke's Mike Krzyzewski after four straight defeats, including one earlier this season in Durham, N.C. - put Michigan State (25-6) into tomorrow's regional final.

The Spartans will play against second-seeded Kentucky, a 62-52 winner over sixth-seeded Utah last night, with a trip to the Final Four next week in St. Louis at stake.

"In a lot of ways, I thought we played the game the way we wanted to play it," Izzo said. "I don't think we wore them down, but I thought we kept the pressure on."

The pressure was particularly strong inside, where Davis, a junior center, led Michigan State with 20 points and 12 rebounds, and senior forward Alan Anderson finished with 17 points and eight rebounds.

Williams led Duke (27-6) with 19 points and eight rebounds, and senior guard Daniel Ewing finished with 18 points. But junior guard J.J. Redick, the Atlantic Coast Conference's leading scorer, scored only 13 on 4-for-14 shooting.

"I didn't get frustrated," said Redick, who shot 9-for-37 in this year's tournament. "I got frustrated at 78-68."

But one quirk on the stat sheet spelled Duke's demise: The Blue Devils had as many turnovers (22) as they did baskets, most of them forced by Michigan State's relentless defense.

"I thought Michigan State's defense was terrific," Krzyzewski said. "Without any traps, they were able to pressure the ball and force 22 turnovers. In the first half, I thought 12 turnovers were a key to the ballgame."

They kept the Blue Devils from breaking open the game in the first half. After leading by six on five occasions, Duke found itself tied at 32 at halftime.

The Spartans, who had shot a dismal 13-for-40 from the field in the first half and missed all six of their three-point tries, kept missing early in the second half and watched Duke open a 36-32 lead.

Then Anderson, a 35 percent three-point shooter this season, hit a wide-open three-pointer to start a 10-0 run.

"I had to make them pay," Anderson said about being left unguarded.

The sudden three-point shooting by Anderson and sophomore guard Shannon Brown started opening up things inside for Davis. It didn't hurt that after Duke cut what had been a nine-point deficit to three at 61-58, Williams picked up his fourth personal foul with 5:27 remaining.

"They had a big force down there with Shelden Williams in the first half, and he pretty much kept them in the game," Anderson said. "But we felt we had a pretty force in Paul."

Davis was proud of the play he made to take Williams out of the game, but even prouder of the fact that he finished the three-point play with a free throw.

It proved contagious, as the Spartans made eight straight free throws in the final 65 seconds to seal their second trip to the Elite Eight in the past three years.

"It feels great, but you can't sit here and be too happy," Anderson said. "It's a great win for our team, our program and our school, but don't blow it up too much. We've still got games left to play."

But Izzo admitted that beating Duke, especially in the NCAA tournament, is something special. Though he has a national championship on his resume, he has always looked at the Blue Devils, and Krzyzewski, as the benchmark.

"I feel like we beat a great team," Izzo said. "When they come out, there's a confidence about them. He's got 30 years [actually 25 at Duke] and we've got 10. We've got a long way to go."

That gap was closed significantly last night, when Duke ran out of bodies, and eventually time.

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