During a four-minute span in the second half, Washington's best player hurt his ankle, Duke forced five turnovers, and the second-ranked Blue Devils outscored the Huskies, 10-1, en route to a 71-59 victory today before a national television audience and a sellout crowd at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Washington, which defeated Duke, 80-78, in the West Regional of last year's NCAA tournament, scored the first six points of the second half and trailed by one, 45-44.
Under no defensive pressure, Washington forward Detlef Schrempf tripped and sprained his right ankle with 13:42 left.
Then Duke's guards -- Tommy Amaker and Johnny Dawkins -- took control with their outstanding defensive pressure. Dawkins had a steal and a dunk followed by an Amaker steal and two free throws. Moments later, Schrempf returned, then Amaker forced a five-second violation on Clay Damon. Dawkins, who with Mark Alarie led Duke with 19 points, hit a foul-line jumper.
After a Reggie Rogers free throw, Duke went to a slowdown offense and ran nearly two minutes off the clock before David Henderson drove around Schrempf for a thunderous dunk. Henderson was fouled on the play and his free throw gave the Blue Devils a 55-45 lead with 9:43 remaining. Thereafter, Washington could get no closer than eight.
"Their guards are quick and that's a decided advantage for them because we've had back court problems this year," said Washington Coach Marv Harshman, whose team is 11-4.
"Our advantage was inside with three big kids (6-9 Schrempf, 6-9 Paul Fortier and 7-0 Chris Welp)," he said. "I thought we could hurt them in there, but in the first half we didn't do enough of that."
Duke used five different defenders on Schrempf in the first half, including 6-2 Dawkins after Henderson and Alarie picked up three fouls each while guarding the West German all-America.
The strategy worked as Schrempf, who had 30 points in last year's tournament game, took only six shots in the first half and committed four turnovers. He finished with 15 points.
"We thought that by varying different types of pressure and people playing him that we could force them to keep making adjustments," said Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski. "We put Dawkins on him so he would have to adjust to quickness, Alarie so he would have to adjust to height and Henderson for a little bit of both."
Duke had a 19-10 lead in the first half when Washington abandoned its zone defense, which allowed Alarie five open jumpers, in favor of a man-to-man pressure.
But the Blue Devils had an answer in Amaker, who went over and around Damon for nine first-half points as Duke took a 41-34 halftime lead.
"I wasn't looking to score that much," said Amaker. "I just took what the defense was giving me. Coach Krzyzewski told us if they play a man-to-man that we could go around them." Amaker, from Falls Church, finished with 13 points, six assists and no turnovers in 36 minutes.
For Duke, 12-0 and one of two undefeated major college teams in the country (Georgetown is the other), there was little time to savor the win. The Blue Devils play at Maryland Monday, the first of a six-game Atlantic Coast Conference swing, five on the road.
"When the buzzer went off, we started thinking about Maryland," said Duke center Jay Bilas. "But we do have a few hours to celebrate."