WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina (Ticker) -- You can't tease the coach of the top-ranked team in the country before you play him in the opening round of the NCAA tournament and not expect to pay. Even if he is your friend.
The No. 1 seed Blue Demons might not have been looking for revenge for their coach, but they got it for him, rolling over 16th seed Lamar, 82-55, in an East Region first-round game.
Freshman Jason Williams scored 18 points, dished out seven assists and did not commit a turnover, leading Duke (28-4). Carlos Boozer added 16 points, and Shane Battier and Nate James scored 12 apiece for the Blue Devils, who will play Kansas in the second round on Sunday.
Kenyon Spears led Lamar (15-16) with 19 points, Thaydeus Holden had 13 and Landon Rowe added 10.
"I thought Lamar played really well," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "We can play better, but Lamar had a lot to do with that. They're extremely well coached. I asked (Lamar coach) Mike Deane who coaches them. We are pretty good friends. He said I looked like our mascot so I had to get back at him at least one time." For the first 16 minutes, this did not look like a match-up between one of the strongest teams in the country and a school with a .500 record. Though the Blue Devils held a lead all the way, they could not shake the Cardinals.
"I didn't think we played well," Duke Senior forward Chris Carrawell said. "Lamar came out and played a great game. We started off slow in the first half and they came in and played like they had nothing to lose." Lamar was still within 34-31 with four minutes left before halftime, but Boozer hit a pair of free throws and Nate James driller a 3-pointer and the Blue Devils closed out the half with a 10-2 run.
"We were in awe right before the tip, but we scored a couple of times and we loosened up," Rowe said. "We got a couple of boards and realized maybe we can compete. Down the stretch, they outplayed us." In the second half Duke held the Cardinals to 27 percent (8-of-29) shooting from the field while the Blue Devils shot 48 percent (12-of-25). The Blue Devils also held a 42-28 advantage on the glass.
The deep and talented Blue Devils were the first team in 26 years to win consecutive ACC regular season and tournament titles. For the second straight year, they entered the NCAA Tournament ranked No. 1 in the country, a feat last accomplished by DePaul in 1980 and 1981.
The Blue Devils (28-4) barely seemed to miss a beat despite losing Trajan Langdon, Elton Brand, William Avery and Corey Maggette to the NBA. After dropping games to Stanford and Connecticut in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, they regrouped to win 18 straight contests.
Duke did not taste defeat until Maryland ended its ACC-record 31-game home winning streak, 98-87, at Cameron Indoor Stadium on February 9. The only other loss was an 83-82 setback to St. John's on February 26.
"We're well aware that they're a better basketball team than us," Deane said. "But we're also aware of the rewards we'll see from playing in the national tournament on our recruiting, our season ticket sales, and our program. Now we'll root for Duke to win it all, because if they hadn't won tonight, we'd have won it all." .