GREENSBORO, North Carolina (Ticker) -- Duke's Mike Krzyzewski had a lot to be proud of on Saturday. The play of his team and the performance of his pupil.
Former Duke star Quin Snyder had his Missouri squad more than ready to play, but Krzyzewski and the Blue Devils were too much to overcome as the East Region's top-seed advanced to the NCAA Tournament's "Sweet 16" with a 94-81 victory at the Greensboro Coliseum.
The 13-point margin of victory was not indicative of a game in which Kareem Rush and the Tigers stood toe-to-toe with the top-ranked Blue Devils (31-4) for 30 minutes before a pair of All-Americans took over.
"This was a great game. Wow," said Krzyzewski. "There were some big-time performances by a number of kids. Duke and Missouri played a helluva game today. I'm proud of what he's (Quin Snyder) has done with his team and I'm proud of my team." Jason Williams and Naismith Award winner Shane Battier, who played for Snyder as a freshman and sophomore, dominated the stretch run and lifted Duke into the East Region semifinals against fourth-seeded UCLA.
"In the second half, so many people made so many big plays for Missouri and us," Battier said.
Williams and Battier combined for 56 points, including 16 in the final 10:24, as the Blue Devils survived a game played at a frenetic pace despite once again being without starting center Carlos Boozer.
"They (Williams and Battier) are great people," Krzyzewski said.
Williams finished with 31 points and nine assists and several times answered big shots by Rush with huge baskets of his own. Rush, playing with a soft cast on a left thumb after tearing ligaments earlier this season, hit five 3-pointers and finished with 29 points.
Rush and Clarence Gilbert led an outside attack as the Tigers drilled 11 3-pointers to give Snyder a chance at defeating his alma mater.
"A couple of times I found myself looking down at the Duke bench and thinking, 'Wow, that's Coach K down there,'" said Snyder. "I was part strange and part scary." Snyder participated in five Final Fours while at Duke, three as a player and two as an assistant to Krzyzewski.
"We talk pretty much during the year and we talked on Selection Sunday about this situation," said Krzyzewski. "I got a little bit emotional before the game when I saw him. I love Quin. In addition to loving him, I respect him." Back-to-back 3-pointers by Brian Grawer and Rush pulled the Tigers within 63-62 of the highly favored Blue Devils with 10:40 remaining before arguably the nation's two best players steadied the Atlantic Coast Conference champions.
Battier drove the baseline for a basket and Williams converted a layup on the break to push Duke's advantage to five points with just under 10 minutes left.
After a basket by Missouri's Tajudeen Soyoye, Battier banked in a short jumper and followed by drilling a 3-pointer from the left wing for a 72-64 advantage with 8:49 to play. Missouri could not get closer than six the rest of the way.
For good measure, Williams had a driving layup and made his fifth 3-pointer of the afternoon in the final 7:05.
"I thought it was a great game," Snyder said. "There were a lot of points where Duke could've broken us, but our kids responded." Mike Dunleavy Jr. played a supporting role to Duke's two marquee stars, collecting 15 points and nine rebounds. The Blue Devils committed 16 turnovers, but shot 54 percent (32-of-59) and held a 42-31 edge on the boards despite the absence of Boozer. Battier had 11 rebounds.
Boozer missed his sixth straight game because of a fracture in his left foot. He is expected to return on Thursday, when the Blue Devils play at the East Regionals in Philadelphia.
"I thought their team played as hard against us as any team all year," said Dunleavy. "With the talent they have, we never thought it was in the bag." Gilbert made four 3-pointers and scored 16 points and Soyoye finished with 11 for Missouri, which was 11-of-21 from beyond the arc and connected on 41 percent (11-of-21) of its field goal attempts.
The ninth-seeded Tigers, who defeated Georgia in the final seconds of an opening-round contest on Thursday, never wavered even after the Blue Devils scored 14 points over a three-minute span of the first half to take a 30-19 lead.
Duke's advantage ballooned to 43-28 on a layup by Williams with 1:37 left in the opening half and it seemed Duke was ready to bury a team that finished sixth in the Big 12 Conference.
Immediately, however, the momentum swung in Missouri's favor. Freshman Rickey Paulding buried a 3-pointer and Rush hit two shots from beyond the arc within a 20-second span to pull the Tigers within 43-37 entering the locker room.
"I was able to get by my man and get shots today," said Rush. "I was kind of selfish tonight, and that's not me. It was an honor to play against them (Duke)." Missouri scored six of the first eight points of the second half to make it 45-43, but Williams prevented the Tigers from tying or taking the lead by hitting a pair of 3-pointers over the next two minutes.
Missouri has not been past the second round of the NCAA Tournament since 1994.
"It's very difficult not to define yourself on results, whether that's score or record," said Snyder. "But what this team has accomplished has some staying power. We've become a good team." .