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Passion Play!

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H-S
| NYT
| ESPN
|Box Score
| N&R
| N&O
| W-S |
Charlotte
| Katz |
K-Hoops

Wetzel |
K-Hoops
| NYPost |
Star-Ledger
| Star-Ledger
| NYDN
| C-J
| C-J

What is it with these two teams? How can they keep doing this? Every time
Duke and Kentucky play, it's spine-tingling, it's one for the scrapbook.
And this one had Jason Williams in a career performance, taking on the Laettner
role, and Cliff Hawkins taking on the Sean Woods role. Incredible.

For much of the game, Kentucky owned Duke, to the point where Krzyzewski
yanked his starters in disgust and put in the reserves - who played very well
indeed. Prior to that point, Kentucky had controlled Duke, they had,
frankly, pushed them around, and played, well, more like Duke than Duke. They
were confident, assertive, and sensational. We have to admit, we radically
underestimated this team, and the guard play was much, much better than we
expected to see. The Wildcats pretty clearly believed they were better than
Duke, and for much of the game, they backed that up.

The game started to to turn, though, when Coach K, disgusted, put his bench
in and sat the starters. The bench players actually outscored Kentucky 5-4 and,
K said, showed his starters that "they were about to lose something."

Not long after, Jason Williams went into the phone booth and put on his
cape. We haven't watched the tape again yet, but come on - three point
shots, pinpoint passes, rebounding in traffic - you couldn't take a game over
more thoroughly if you programmed it for Play Station. Jason hit 23 out of
Duke's final 31 points in regulation. It was an amazing performance.

In the post-game, Jason talked almost first about visiting Ground Zero and
how lucky he and his teammates are, and how he realized that it was only part of
a bigger picture. After that he talked about Wojo's loss in the regional
finals, and how he wanted to win it for him.

It really is a rare privilege to be able to see a guy like this on your
side. Think about Laettner, Jordan, Tim Duncan, Ford, Thompson, Jason Kidd
at Cal. It's really amazing to have a guy on your team who just cannot be
denied. It'll be a while before we see this type of talent again - if
ever. And then there's his character to be proud of. So enjoy it
while he's here.

Needless to say, though Duke was horrid for a big part of the game - Coach K
called them soft - the comeback was not entirely one player. Boozer
rebounded convincingly, Dunleavy made some very smart plays, and Jones had the
go-ahead basket.

Another word about Kentucky - they played a really superb game. They took it
to Duke for a good chunk of it, and when Duke finally battled back and went
toe-to-toe with UK, they didn't blink. Their kids kept coming, and battling, and
played with the hearts of champions. Kentucky fans have a lot to be proud
of and a lot to look forward to. We were certainly immensely impressed
with this team.

We're sure we'll have much more on this game, and look for it, maybe this
weekend even, as an Instant Classic on ESPN Classic.