clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Duke Beats Memphis, Wins Pre-Season NIT

H-S | N&O
| N-R
| NYPost | NYDN
| Newsday |
Box | GoDuke
Though Memphis provided a tremendous challenge for Duke, in the end, Duke was
tougher down the stretch and pulled out a 70-67 win over a young and immensely
promising team.

In the first part of the game, Memphis was sensational and did pretty much
whatever they wanted. They looked like an NBA team at times, with
sensational dunks and cool alley-oops. They are incredibly athletic and
very young, and they'll be trouble for anyone this year.

Memphis was led by sensational freshman Shawne Williams, who is rapidly
making a case for himself as a high draft pick. He scored 15 points and
had eight boards as a freshman in a big game. That followed up on his big
game against UCLA.

Memphis jumped out to an early lead, but J.J. Redick scored six points in
less than 30 seconds to cut the lead from 15-6 to 15-12.

Memphis continued its athletic carnival for much of the first half before
Duke retook the lead, 34-33, at the 3:43 mark.

Duke ended the half up only 42-41 after Darius Washington hit a Redick-like
long bomb at the buzzer.

The second half was nip-and-tuck until Duke went up 67-60 on a Shelden
Williams basket at the 6:59 mark.

That was the point in most games when you expect to see Duke pull away, but
Memphis wasn't going to let Duke off that easily.

The game was nip and tuck, but Memphis never got the lead after Duke took it
back in the first half. They never let loose, either though, and so when
Duke had a two point lead and two free throws with just 10 seconds left, it
seemed like the game was over.

However, Lee Melchionni missed them both. Sean Dockery came up with the
ball and had another pair, but missed the first before making the second.
Memphis got the ball back with seven seconds but missed a long three at the

The best news in this game is how well Duke dealt with adversity. They
played without DeMarcus Nelson, who would have been wonderful in this game, and
lost Josh McRoberts in the second half to fouls.

Immediately after he fouled out, Memphis exploited his absence, scoring two
straight baskets inside and cutting Duke's lead quickly to one.

And in another significant challenge, Memphis defended J.J. Redick extremely
well, shutting him out for the second half.

Duke had a couple of occasions when they could have probably salted the game
away but made a foolish pass here, a bad shot there, and didn't do it.

But the positives greatly outweighed them. Duke won without one key
player playing at all and with another being defended very well. Josh
McRoberts continues to show more of his skills, with some very impressive inside
moves, and Greg Paulus stepped up nicely.

McRoberts shot 6-9 and got four boards in 31 minutes, while Paulus got seven
assists and eight boards in 38 minutes.

Lee Melchionni continues to struggle offensively, which is too bad.
Here's hoping he doesn't get too caught up thinking about it.

But beyond all the other accolades and good news was the performance of
Shelden Williams. Williams shot 11-13 and ended up with 30 points,
including an absolutely critical late tip-in which was vaguely reminiscent of
his ACC Tournament tip-in against Georgia Tech.

He had a monster game, and it couldn't have come at a better time.

Duke will be missing Nelson for at least a few weeks - the formal
announcement will come after he has seen doctors in Durham - and that will make
things tough in some ways. But with Paulus and McRoberts coming along so
nicely, and with Pocius poised to do the same, things are looking good.

As for Memphis, what can you say? They took a very young team to New York and
almost pulled it off. They're very athletic and don't be at all surprised
if they make a deep run in March.