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And For Those With Connection Problems...

Since some people can't access directories called games from
work, we are publishing all game stories on the front page. Here are all
three games from this weekend.

MARYLAND

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There will be no tearing down goalposts in College Park. Lonny Baxter will
not be shushing Duke fans. Maryland gave Duke an excellent game, but when it
came down to winning time, Duke had it today and Maryland didn't, as Duke
prevailed 81-68.

It would be easy to say that Maryland lost because Danny Miller was hurt, but
it's not that simple. First of all, when Taj Holden was in he did a fair amount
of damage. Second, Duke still got the key rebounds down the stretch. Third, it
didn't make Steve Blake throw the ball to Nate James. And fourth,  Danny
Miller never shoots enough to have a significant effect on Maryland's overall
percentage. 

That percentage was pretty low - Maryland shot 39%. Duke basically took
Lonnie Baxter out of the offense, limiting him to 4-15. Terrence Morris was
6-26. Blake was 3-8, Miller was 1-5 in 9 minutes, and Nicholas was 1-6.

Pretty clearly, Duke had something to do with that.

In the first half, though, Maryland's defense looked more impressive as the
Terps pushed Duke every step of the way and got into the passing lanes. 
They were much more aggressive earlier.

In the second half, though, Duke, quite simply, showed more heart than the
Terps.  Duke made plenty of mistakes, but made up them.  They
frustrated Maryland's offense, stole the ball, got key rebounds - you name it,
Duke took it over. To top it off, Duke got to the line 21 times to Maryland's 8,
outscoring them by 12, which was almost the winning margin.

Beating UNC senseless last March was fun, but in many respects, this was much
more fun.  This was a team which was never supposed to be in this position,
and not only are they 18-1 vs. ACC opponents but are likely to go into the
tournament as the #1 seed overall. 

Best of all, Boozer and Williams were sensational today.  Jason was
named the Tourney MVP, and they'll need him playing well to make a deep run in
the tournament, which is by no means guaranteed.   But seeing him step
up in a big game like this is very encouraging.

We'll have more later after the selection show.

Notes - Everyone got to play today....Dunleavy had his 1st off game since
being ill...Shane has developed a real knack for stripping the shooter lately,
on the way up...Duke only hit 7 threes after the earlier barrages this
weekend....Duke cooled off Dixon and Blake, who were insanely hot in the first
half...Baxter was held to 10 points but got 8 boards...Morris got 11...Blake had
6 turnovers, but so did Williams...The only other team to win regular season and then the tournament in consecutive years was NC State in 73-74...

 

WAKE FOREST

Links For This Game Are Here

Duke downed a very game Wake Forest squad today in the ACC Semifinals,
82-73.  Wake played a very tough, physical and aggressive game and was in
position to win until Duke's offense kicked in gear in the second half.

In the first half, a good bit of the Duke team played like they were
recovering from mono, Dunleavy being the main exception.  Wake Forest went
through, over and around the Duke defense, leading for most of the half and
having, for a good bit of time, a 7 point lead.  Duke shot poorly -
Carrawell for instance only hit 2-7. Battier hit 4-9. Duke was outrebounded
18-16.

They went in to halftime with a 1 point lead. 

In the second half, it looked as if Wake were the team playing championship
basketball, not Duke.  But if you watch Duke basketball closely, over the K
years, you may have noticed a pattern we have noticed: quite often, in the
second half, there is an extended period where neither team scores. 
Typically Duke breaks out of this with a run. It used to bother us, but then we
realized what was happening: Duke is putting on a serious defensive stretch.

It happened in this game, and at that point we stopped thinking that Wake
would win.  When Duke's offense kicked into high gear, Wake kept up for a
bit, but mostly they were matching 2's for 3's.  This was the point in the
game where Nate James stepped up.  

Shut out in the first half, Nate James finished with 13 points, with 4 3s, 8
rebounds, and a back breaking steal which led to a very hard Wake Forest foul,
which was immediately called intentional.  When Nate was getting up, he had
a pretty serious look on his face and was obviously upset.  Fortunately
Battier ran over and picked him up, preventing any kind of confrontation. After
Nate's Dad waded fearlessly into the Maryland crowd last year, and looking at
the size of Nate, it's good for Wake someone restrained him. He's a load. The
ref called an inentional foul, James hit both, and any chance Wake had was long
gone.

Another guy who really stepped up today was Dunleavy.  As far as we're
concerned, the play of the day was his slick little pass to Carrawell on the
break. We missed that. He's a really interesting part of this team as he
provides a kind of glue that no one else really can provide.

When it got down to winning time, Duke just basically took their game up to a
level where Wake couldn't go.  Though Wake came in with great hopes of
stopping the 3 point barrage, they had minimal luck, as Duke hit 13, obviously equaling
39, and Wake hit 3, for 9.  That's a big hill to climb, and a lot of it
came in the second half.

Wake has now at least an argument with the committee, though it won't go very
far and would have gone farther had they beaten Duke: Temple is a likely #1
seed, and if they had taken 2 of the 4, it would be a solid track record. 
Unfortunately for Wake, it wasn't meant to be.

On a side note, Nate James made it clear a long time ago that he felt that
leaving was equivalent to quitting.  He was determined to stick it out, and
for him, it has to be a sweet redemption.

On another side note, if Dunleavy has another game like the first two, and
Duke wins, he might well win the Case Award.

Notes - Boozer was more or less AWOL, hitting only 2-7 and fouling
out....much like Forte, it's good to remember he's a freshman...Duke is now 36-1
over the last two seasons vs. ACC competition...the only team to ever finish
first two years in a row AND to win the ACC two years in a row was David
Thompson's State team in 73-74....Cwell only hit 3-13....Battier 7-17....Boozer
2-7....Williams 6-9...not a good shooting day....Williams on the other hand got
11 assists....Howard by contrast was 7-10....Wake shot .509, Duke .382...Wake
also had 18 turnovers...

CLEMSON

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Duke put together a very impressive performance vs. Clemson, particularly on
offense, where they just drilled Clemson, hitting 17 three pointers. Even Andre
Buckner and Ryan Caldbeck knocked one down apiece. Duke shot 60% from three point range, which is pretty amazing.

In many ways, though, the best news was the return of Mike Dunleavy, who
mostly looked like he had never been away.

Dunleavy hit for 16 points and five rebounds.  He hit 6-7 and jokingly
said it was the NBA arena, that he felt at home after growing up in them. If his
timing was a bit off, it showed in his assists and turnovers - he had 0 assists
and 3 turnovers. He played 20 minutes, which was about what he was seeing before
getting sick with mono. So Duke has come through the Dunleavy absence in fine
shape. 

Dunleavy allows Coach K an incredible flexibility. Unlike recent games, when
Cwell had some foul trouble (or anyone else for that matter), K just shifted
Dunleavy in, and poof - problem solved, Carrawell rested, and on they played.

The corollary to that was the nice performance Nick Horvath put in. At the
beginning of the season, he was essentially a 3 point specialist. Clearly he has
profited from his extended playing time while Dunleavy rested, as his all-round
game tonight was excellent, particularly his defense.

Pretty much everyone on Duke played well - Battier had a great game
offensively and defensively.  Carrawell did a solid job on Solomon - he had
14 points, but was shut out for most of the second half, and one of his late 3's
came from about 28 feet, and no one guards that far out all the time.

Nate James had a superb game on both end of the court.  He had 13 in the
first half and was solid all around.

The first half alternated between super and somewhat worrisome as Duke, after
a slow start, pushed the lead out as far as 28 points before settling for a 23
point halftime lead. 

The bad news - Carrawell got 3 first half fouls. The good news - Dunleavy
played and played very well. The better news - Nate James had 13, Battier had
10, Cwell and Dunleavy had 9, and Boozer had 6 - nice balanced scoring. And
Williams had 5 assists.

On the other hand, though Duke shot well, particularly from outside, hitting
83% from three point range in the opening stanza, they gave Clemson a lot of
opportunities. Fortunately for Duke, at least in the first half, Clemson wasn't
up to taking advantage of what they were given, and actually they played pretty
fair defense in spots, despite the hot shooting. Duke, in turn, didn't play
great defense consistently. If Clemson were more gifted, they would have made
Duke pay for some first half lapses.

For instance, though Duke outshot Clemson, Clemson forced 9 turnovers and
Duke forced 5.  Each team had 5 steals.

Duke did outrebound Clemson, and substantially, 22-9. They also got 11 second
chance points to Clemson's 2.

In the second half, though, Duke really turned it up and pretty thoroughly
dominated the Tigers.  Duke took the ball away a lot and forced Clemson to
defend on the break, thus wearing the slower Tigers out. In the halfcourt, the
hot shooting continued, and there really wasn't much Clemson could do.

For the game, in a pleasant turnaround, Duke outrebounded the Tigers by 10.

Larry Shyatt had some very nice things to say about Duke's effort, desire,
and attention to detail.  One of his players said that "Duke just got
hot," but Shyatt countered by saying the reason they got hot was because
they played hard, did all the little things, and gained confidence.  

He had big words for Dunleavy, saying that he "didn't miss a beat,"
which was our take, too.

Casey Sanders got some extended minutes tonight, and not only did he hold his
own, he got five boards, a stick-back, and was the recipient of a hard foul by
Clemson's Ray Henderson, which was judged intentional. Earlier in the year that
hammering would have really hurt him. It says a lot about his improved strength
that he bounced back up from a brutal foul.  A few minutes later, he had an
impressive block, though a foul was called on the play.

If he can pull down 5-7 boards a game, Casey has found a nitch. He will just
need to play consistent defense.

Though Carlos Boozer was perhaps the statistical disappointment of the night,
though to be sure that's relative, seeing him dive on the floor after a botched
pass was wonderful Earlier in the season he didn't do that, and there were a few
times when Coach K yanked him from the lineup in disgust.

So now the Devils rest and await the winners of UNC-Wake Forest on
Friday.  Looking rejuvenated, and with Dunleavy back in the lineup, and
Carrawell and Battier actually getting some rest playing 28 and 29 minutes,
respectively, it's a much more optimistic scenario for Duke than it seemed it
would be a few days ago. It's still not going to be easy to win the tournament,
but it's looking better than it did a few days ago.

Notes - Coach K called a timeout less than 90 seconds in...he said that the
lack of attention to detail was why....Nate's first half was one of his best of
the season....17 turnovers was a statistical downer, particularly vs.
Clemson...the flipside of taking 29 3 pointers - only 17 free throw
attempts...it's increasingly clear that although Carrawell is a highly unusual
player, Battier, Dunleavy, and Williams are as well..this was the best defensive
game we've seen Horvath play...