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Blue Devils Need Time to Shake Free

Krzyzewski Ties Smith's Record : Duke 57, Delaware St. 46

By Kathy Orton
Special to The Washington Post
Saturday, March 19, 2005; Page D12

CHARLOTTE, March 18 -- Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski appreciated this game more than most -- and not just because he tied former North Carolina coach Dean Smith's record of 65 NCAA tournament victories.

Krzyzewski's top-seeded Blue Devils overcame a first-half scare to defeat No. 16 seed Delaware State, 57-46, in an Austin Region first-round game Friday at Charlotte Coliseum.

"I'm glad we won, whatever number it was," Krzyzewski said. "Each victory in the tournament is a treasured win. This is a great tournament. I know that we beat an extremely well-coached team of great kids."

Duke (26-5) advances to Sunday's second round to face Mississippi State.

The Blue Devils, who average nearly 80 points per game, won despite their lowest scoring output of the season. It was only the third time this season they failed to score 60 points. Duke did not make a field goal the final 8 minutes 20 seconds.

Shelden Williams scored 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead Duke, despite being hampered by foul trouble most of the game. Daniel Ewing added 12 points and was the only other Blue Devil to score in double figures. ACC player of the year J.J. Redick finished with seven points on 1-of-7 shooting.

Early on, it was hard to tell which team was the one playing in its first NCAA tournament and which one was making its 29th appearance. For much of the first half, Delaware State (19-14) showed the poise of a tournament-tested team and gave Duke fits as the Hornets executed their game plan to near perfection.

Delaware State "played a hell of a game," Krzyzewski said. "They should be proud of their efforts. However we played, they made us play that way."

Delaware State took its time on offense, which also limited Duke's offensive possessions. The Hornets were patient, making the extra pass to find the open shot. Several times they put the ball in the hands of their big men, forcing Duke to bring its post players away from the basket. Then Delaware State would spread the court, allowing the player with the ball to go one-on-one with a Blue Devils big man.

Twice late in the game, the Hornets used this strategy to the detriment of Shavlik Randolph. Each time, the Delaware State player scored.

"Whichever player on our team the biggest man on their team was defending, we just used him to get to the basket and create from there," Hornets guard Aaron Williams said. "We just took their big man out and used him to create our offense."

After Duke surged to a nine-point early lead, the Blue Devils missed their next three shots and turned over the ball twice. Delaware State took advantage of those miscues, going on an 11-0 run to go up 14-12 less than eight minutes into the game.

The Blue Devils went back ahead, 20-16, but Delaware State didn't fold. The Hornets' Tracey Worley scored on a put-back to tie the score at 28, but his basket with just less than five minutes remaining was the last basket Delaware State made in the half.

Worley, a freshman, finished with 13 points on 6-of-6 shooting.

Daniel Ewing made a three-pointer, then Lee Melchionni sank another as Duke ended the half on an 8-0 run.

Despite its drought, Delaware State shot 54 percent in the first half. Only once this season had Duke allowed an opponent to shoot better than 50 percent in game.

The Hornets' scoring woes continued into the second half. Their offensive strategy that had been so effective in the first half, fell apart after halftime. After Troy Roundtree made a layup to pull Delaware State to 37-30, the Hornets missed their next 16 shots. It was that 15-minute 43-second stretch that spanned the first and second halves -- during which Delaware State scored only two points -- that doomed the Hornets. Delaware State made only 6 of 28 field goals after halftime. For the game, the Hornets shot 37 percent.

"I thought the kids showed a lot of patience," Delaware State Coach Greg Jackson said. "They showed a lot of desire. They were able to hang around until the talent level took over."

The Hornets, who won the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championship for the first time in school history, did not appear to have much in their favor coming into this game.

Yet, Delaware State, which starts three sophomores and two seniors, and began the season with 10 new players, did not appear intimidated by Duke's glossy résumé.

"We're not going to be scared," Jackson said. "We're not going to be intimidated by anybody. From this point on . . . Delaware State is a team that is going to be on this level."

MISSISSIPPI STATE 93, STANFORD 70: The ninth-seeded Bulldogs rallied from a 12-point first-half deficit to advance to the second round for the third time in the last four years.

Stanford (18-13), which was down to nine healthy players entering this tournament, struggled to score in the second half. The Cardinal made 51 percent of its shots in the first half then missed 25 of 34 attempts (27 percent) after halftime.

Mississippi State guard Winsome Frazier made six three-pointers and finished with 20 points -- nearly eight points above his season average.

Stanford center Rob Little (Paul VI), who finished his career ranked in the school's top 10 in career field goal percentage (.550), scored 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting.

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