The 1999-2000 team was one of our favorites during the Krzyzewski era because of how Coach K used the brilliant versatility he had to mask his team’s extreme lack of depth.
Duke featured Shane Battier, Chris Carrawell, Nate James, Carlos Boozer, Mike Dunleavy and Jason Williams. The latter three were all freshmen.
That was about it. Nick Horvath was a skinny freshman, as was Casey Sanders, and neither would contribute much although Horvath did hit a clutch three to beat DePaul in early December, 84-83. Matt Christensen was a sophomore about to go on a Mormon mission who would contribute much later.
Herb Sendek was a few years into his run at State and had a pretty fair team with Damien Wilkins, Justin Gainey and Archie Miller, who later rose to prominence as a coach. Gainey is currently an assistant to Shaka Smart at Marquette. Trivia: Marshall Williams, who was a teammate at State and who played a key role in this game, transferred to Marquette.
It was a good competitive ACC game but the end got a little squirrely, as you’ll see.
With less than 10 seconds on the clock, Duke had a six point lead. State got an uncontested layup then Duke blew the inbounds pass. After a timeout, State got the ball to Justin Gainey, who was then fouled on a desperation three point shot. Coach K, who is usually so positive and always trying to project confidence, put his hands on his head at this point and turned away in disbelief. He was, simply, aghast.
He hit the first and missed the second to put State within two, 79-77. and 0:08 left on the clock.
Then Duke made another dreadful mistake, letting freshman Marshall Williams get all the way down the lane to tip the ball in.
Fortunately, Duke was better in OT. It was still a tight game but the Blue Devils managed to minimize mistake and when Chris Carrawell hit two free throws with 12.1 left to put Duke up 90-86, State got an easy layup again, but Duke got the ball in with no trouble and put Nate James on the line. He hit both to give Duke the final margin of 90-86.
This team was brilliant though. Krzyzewski rotated one player in every four minutes or so and the versatility especially of Battier, Dunleavy and Carrawell meant that almost no one got tired.
It was brilliant and it looked as if the team had a chance to make a deep run. Unfortunately, Dunleavy developed mono and that kind of killed Duke’s post-season chances. The Devils lost to Florida in the East Regional Semifinals as the Gators scored the final 13. Duke was up 78-74 with 4:01 left but didn’t score again.
Still, it set the stage for the brilliant 2001 national championship team that would follow the next season.