Duke relentless in pursuit of perfection
No. 1 Blue Devils feel need to turn up intensity at halftime
Posted: Friday March 19, 1999 11:30 PM
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- This is how good Duke has been playing basketball.
When the Blue Devils finished the first 20 minutes against Southwest Missouri State in Friday night's NCAA East regional up by just nine points, coach Mike Krzyzewski was a little disappointed.
So the nation's No. 1 team turned up the intensity a notch or two and came away with 78-61 victory, a game in which coach K couldn't say enough about the other guys.
"They played great," he said of SMS. "They played really good defense. They have good hands. They're always after it, chasing loose balls."
That said, the Bears still lost by 16.
"They're a very good offensive team, the way they run their motion," Krzyzewski continued. "They get a lot of touches. They don't turn it over much. We couldn't get them to turn it over."
That said, Duke never trailed.
"They're a confident team," coach K said. "That's why they beat Wisconsin and why they beat Tennessee by 30. Their team played great against us."
All very nice but it didn't mean much in the long run for the Bears, who were in as trifle too deep against Duke.
Coach Steve Alford knew his team needed a nearly perfect game to compete with the Blue Devils. What he got was a somewhat imperfect one. SMS shot just 37 percent and that simply wasn't enough against Duke's relentless attack.
Anytime Duke needed a basket, it was able to get one, if not from Trajan Langdon outside, then from Elton Brand inside. If not from William Avery, then from Chris Carrawell.
Still, Duke got some lecturing from Krzyzewski at halftime.
"We've been playing great basketball, unusually great basketball," he said. "I thought we started ... we didn't get a loose ball. If we pick it up, we get a score. Instead, they pick it up and get a score."
It's not that Duke was ever in trouble against SMS. It's just that the Blue Devils have grown accustomed to blowouts in this 35-1 season. They hadn't scored fewer than 80 points since December. They hadn't won by less than 10 since January.
So in the second half, when a Duke player found himself surrounded by three SMS players in a loose ball scramble, coach K jumped to his feet. "We've got four timeouts," he called to his team, a reminder to play smart basketball.
Why the urgency?"We're usually up by 30 at that point," Krzyzewski said. "We've got to get back to clipping coupons and shopping sales."
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