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Devils Crush Tigers In Opener (147 PM)

Box Score

When Cameron first opened, the opponent was Princeton, and the first victory
was Princeton.  According to the radio, last night's victory over Princeton
was Coach K's  499th victory in Cameron. Nice symmetry.

As most of you know, Princeton is a delightful anachronism unless you have to
play them.  Then it isn't always so entertaining. For the first and last
sections of the game, Princeton played, we thought, very well.  They went
down by 12 early but pushed back into the game and trailed only 22-20, and that
with six missed points on backdoor plays which didn't work out.  Add those
in and Princeton hung in a bit longer. 

Unfortunately you can't do that, and Duke went from 22-20 to a halftime lead
of 49-23, and the game was over. The same thing that Princeton does to people
when they force them into unfamiliar, slow, patterned basketball, which makes a
comeback tedious, works even more in reverse: if you play that style and get in
a deep hole, you are never getting out.  So it went.  Duke ran up
massive leads before Princeton got the groove back and started making backdoor
cuts again and scoring easy baskets. But by then the game was long over.

So what happened in that stretch? Well, basically, Duke shut down the easy
baskets, pressured the ball, and Princeton turned it over. Vulnerable in the
open court, they couldn't stop the Devils, who ran them down like Cheetahs on
the plains.  Where earlier in the game they had zoned Duke successfully and
forced them to rely on threes, Duke started both breaking through the zone and
also hitting outside.  There was nothing Princeton could do, nothing at
all, to stop the onslaught.

Individually, there were some excellent performances.  Battier obviously
stands out and starts his senior campaign with a 29 point game and therefore a
29 point average.  27 of his 29 points came behind the line, which is
either cause for concern or being in the groove and taking what the game
gives  you.  Call it what you want, he set a new school record with 9
three point shots, breaking William Avery's mark of 8.

Nate James continued to play well with 15 points, 6 boards, and 2 
steals.  Carlos Boozer hit 4-5 from the floor, had 4 boards, and 11 points
total.  Jason Williams had a much better game than he had against Grand
Rapids, hitting 6-9, squaring up nicely on his jumpers, and 7 assists to 2
turnovers. He also had 3 steals and ended up with 17 points.

Mike Dunleavy had some spectacular passes, most particularly an alley-oop. He
also continues to take down defensive boards and bring the ball up, not
something all 6-9 forwards do well.

Chris Duhon took only three shots, making none of them, but his defense and
his passing were tremendous.

Casey Sanders had a statistical wash in many respects, but had two blocks,
though only one showed up in the stats. They were the kind of blocks that
startle opponents: one he blocked almost with his armpit.  We wish that
Casey, though, rather than batting the ball, would just intercept it. 
Blocking the shot and not keeping the ball merely gives them another shot.

Andre Sweet got some nice minutes and played some good D.  Buckner got
in for 9 and had a block and a sweet drive.

Nick Horvath is still  out, presumably with a bad ankle as before. He
didn't dress.

In the last two games, Grand Rapids and Princeton, Duke has gotten the
extremes of the basketball world in many respects - a league designed to
highlight individuals who want to move on to the NBA, and a team which can only
overcome a talent deficit by precision.  Pete Carrill taught his players
not just to pass smart but to put the ball precisely where the recipient needed
it.  His successor did a brilliant job as well.  Considering what
Princeton was up against, after losing their coach, two star players, and two
others as well, we'd say they did a remarkable job for much of the game. 
The credit should probably go to new coach John Thompson III, son of the former
Georgetown coach, who while outmanned, nonetheless kept up for a while and then
got his troops focused enough to run their offense with some success at the
end.  Princeton has a marvelous tradition, a compelling tradition, and we
are very happy to have seen them in person. We expect they'll do well in the Ivy
League, and John Thompson III, from here anyway, looks like a keeper, and
someone who can maintain a noble tradition. Let's hope so.

Fashion Patrol: Dahntay Jones was resplendent in a cream-colored shoot.

Notes - the Crazies were very intense last night, really in good form...we
were most impressed....less so with the people upstairs many of whom, having
seen the show, left with 10 minutes to one leaves the ballet early, and
you already know how it's going to end...we don't get it....Casey chased one of
Princeton's guys to block his shot, didn't get it, but scared him and altered
the shot anyway....Buckner's block was extremely cool, in traffic no less....