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Duke 85 Dayton 74

N&O |
H-S | Box
| Quotes |
| W-S | Dayton
| Pix | Dayton
| Dayton | Fayetteville
Dayton was put on the schedule so that Duke could simulate a tough
second-round NCAA opponent and so that the team would be pushed. Of
course, for Dayton, the idea was to upset a perennial power at home, and to get
an RPI feather in their cap. After a first half where Duke was mostly
excellent, Dayton made it interesting in the second with a superbly gritty
comeback. But unfortunately for the Flyers, J.J. Redick pretty much owned
this game and is already starting to make an argument for himself as the finest
shooter in the Krzyzewski era, and one of the best ever at Duke - seven games
into his career.

What can you say about a performance like that? The kid was throwing
them in from everywhere, and was a huge advantage for Duke. He was 8-10
from the floor (5-7 from 3-point), 5-6 from the line, and just did what he
wanted to against Dayton. Now we're starting to see why Bob Gibbons called him
the best shooter to enter college basketball since Chris Mullin.

Duke's first-half performance against Dayton was in a lot of ways Duke's best
performance of the season - the defense was really sharp, and while the offense
never had one of those runs that broke the game open and put it out of reach,
they still managed to put Dayton in a significant hole, taking a 17 point
advantage to the locker room.

Dayton's second-half comeback was gutty, and terrific, and in many respects
exactly what Duke needed. They weren't able to deliver a knockout punch,
and being a veteran team, Dayton plugged away and got back into the game.
At the end, it seemed as if they had managed to get the momentum back, running
off two solid streaks, one of eight straight points, and then outscoring Duke
13-5. But with a lot of game pressure, Duke made some huge plays down the
stretch to turn back the upset bid.

One of the things that really concerned Duke during the NC A&T game was
the absolute lack of an inside game. This time out, Duke got really solid
play out of Casey Sanders and Shavlik Randolph. Their combined stats: 9-11
from the floor, 10 boards, and 9 fouls (Randolph fouled out). What you
don't see from that though is that Sanders played one of the better games of his
Duke career, making smart plays, scoring efficiently, and playing well within
the system. And just as importantly, Randolph was taking charges, hitting
the boards - doing the big man dirty work, in a nutshell. In a smaller way
than Redick, this was an important game for Shavlik.

Other than Redick, the perimeter didn't have it's best day offensively,
though the defense at times was really great. Dahntay Jones hit for 15,
but Chris Duhon had trouble scoring (though he did get 7 assists and had his
usual stellar defensive effort), and Daniel Ewing had his worst offensive game
of the season, going just 1-6 and scroing only 8 points. He's been so consistent
and so smart for so long that it's easy to take him for granted, but his game
was definitely off.

Still, despite the lapses in this game, for Duke, the important news was the
collective mental toughness. Duke seized the initiative early, and when Dayton
shoved their way back into the game, Duke responded admirably. Now we've got one more warm-up, a visit by former assistant Tim O'Toole and Fairfield before the start of the ACC season.