TUCSON, ARIZ., DEC. 29 -- With three teams in the top 10, including top-ranked Arizona, coming into the desert for two nights, the Fiesta Bowl Classic figured to be the best holiday basketball tournament in the nation.

But with No. 9 Duke's 93-70 victory over eighth-ranked Florida, and homestanding Arizona's 78-58 rout of Michigan State in the second game of tonight's first-round doubleheader, these newfound basketball lovers will have to wait until Wednesday night's final for their excitement.

In the opener, Duke (6-0), which hadn't played anybody of consequence all season, crushed the highly regarded Gators (7-2) in every way.

The Blue Devils had five players in double figures; outrebounded a much bigger Florida team by 10; hit 58 percent of their three-point shots and played the kind of defense they displayed when they went to the Final Four two years ago. Florida's Vernon Maxwell, an all-America candidate, scored 17 points but needed 18 shots to do it. He never took control of the game, as he has so often, largely because of Billy King's defensive effort.

Guard Kevin Strickland led Duke with 21 points, including three three-point baskets. Center John Smith had 17 and forward Danny Ferry had 16 and nine rebounds in just 25 minutes of play.

Arizona's wipeout of Michigan State (5-4) was just as complete, even if the Wildcats (11-0) didn't pull away until midway through the second half.

Sean Elliott, Arizona's 6-foot-8 all-America candidate, and guards Steve Kerr and Ken Lofton drove the Spartans into turnover after turnover the second half. A steal here and a missed shot there turned a 41-36 game into a 56-36 laugher.

Lofton had two steals that he converted into layups for teammates. The Spartans, whose only previous loss was to George Washington, looked scared to shoot from the outside and kept passing up relatively open shots. The Wildcats didn't shoot especially well, but they played well enough defensively and on the boards to get 18 more shots going into garbage time.

Elliot led Arizona with 24 points and certainly caught the eyes of the Blue Devils, who in less than 24 hours have to figure out a way to control his all-court excellence.

Arizona's easy time was expected tonight; Duke's was not.

The Gators must have thought the Blue Devils would fret a bit when Ferry, the 6-10 all-America candidate from DeMatha High School, picked up his third foul late in the first half. It was Ferry whose three consecutive baskets, including a three-point jumper, pushed Duke to an early 13-4 lead.

But Ferry's foul trouble merely gave Duke a chance to demonstrate its depth. The Blue Devils barely missed a beat with 6-5 sophomore Robert Brickey playing in Ferry's spot. Brickey was no small part of Duke's 11-0 run at the end of the first half that increased a 40-33 lead to 51-33.

The second half found more of the same. Point guard Quin Snyder, whose three-pointer at the first-half buzzer demoralized the Gators even more, started the second half by stealing the ball and going in for a layup. The Blue Devils scored the first six points of the half for a 17-0 run and a 57-33 lead.

Florida was never a threat thereafter. The Gators didn't seem to have any idea of how to stop Duke's outstanding perimeter shooting (seven for 12 on three-pointers) and score on its inside defense.

Florida's 7-foot center Dwayne Schintzius led the Gators with 21 points, but the smaller, quicker Duke players beat him inside consistently, making his four blocked shots the most misleading statistic of the night.

"I'm surprised we won by that margin," Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "There's not that much difference between us and Florida. It just wasn't going for Florida tonight.

"Maxwell, before the season is all over, might be a first-team all-America. But Bill {King's} defensive job on Maxwell was excellent. He made it difficult for him, at least. And making it difficult for Maxwell is the key to beating Florida."