The right stuff
Blue Devils block 14 shots en route to rout of Portland
Posted: Monday December 15, 2003 1:35AM; Updated: Monday December 15, 2003 2:06AM
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) -- Mike Krzyzewski hasn't had many intimidating shot blockers in his previous 23 seasons at Duke.
The coach of the No. 4 Blue Devils has three this year.
Shelden Williams, Shavlik Randolph and Luol Deng combined for 12 of Duke's 14 blocks in an 84-43 victory over Portland on Sunday night.
The total was the second-best in school history behind the 17 the Blue Devils had against Virginia in 1999.
"It gives our perimeter guys more confidence in playing passing lanes where they know there is somebody to back them up," Krzyzewski said of his team's shot-blocking ability. "We're protecting our bucket pretty well."
Duke (6-1) is averaging 9.7 blocks a game, up from last season's average of 5.4.
What Krzyzewski is looking for now is more transition baskets from the defensive stops.
"We need to take those blocked shots into fast breaks," he said. "It's kind of like a turnover to where you should get some form of transition.
"Most of our blocked shots stay in play, but I bet we lost half of them," he added. "We need to get the ball because we can get out there and run with it."
Portland coach Michael Holton came away from the loss impressed by Duke's defensive intensity and desire.
"I told coach Krzyzewski after the game that was probably the best defense I've ever seen and I known it's the best defense my players have ever seen," said Holton, a former guard for UCLA. "They suffocated us from the opening tip."
Deng scored 15 points and had nine rebounds, and Williams had eight points, six blocks and five rebounds before leaving at the half with a sprained left ankle.
"His numbers speak for themselves," Randolph said of Williams. "He could not score a point and still affect the whole game by his presence down low. I could have sworn he had about 14 blocks."
Deng came off the bench for the first time this season, but the freshman didn't miss a beat, scoring 11 of his points as the Blue Devils built a 28-point halftime edge.
In a 26-second span in Duke's masterful first half, Deng blocked a shot, hit a 3-pointer and then drew a charge, showing off his all-around game.
"Offensively, we've still got to work," Deng said. "Defensively, we're pretty close."
Duke didn't have much trouble with its overall game after an eight-day layoff for exams, extending the nation's longest home winning streak to 31.
Eugene Jeter led the Pilots with 10 points, but was 3-for-15 from the field.
Meanwhile, Portland (5-2), which came in with a five-game winning streak, missed 16 of its first 17 shots and was just 3-for-28 with 12 turnovers in the opening 20 minutes against Duke's pressuring defense.
At one point, the Pilots went close to nine minutes without a basket as Duke went on runs of 12-2 and 15-2 to open up a big margin.
The Pilots came in third in the nation in 3-point shooting, but the Blue Devils extended their defense beyond the arc and Portland was never able to get into its offense, falling behind 40-12 at the break.