Williams, Duke Down NC State, 86-74
Jan. 13, 2005
By Tony Haynes
Raleigh, N.C. - Had someone told NC State coach Herb Sendek before Thursday night's game against 5th ranked Duke that his team would hold Blue Devils' star J.J. Redick to just eight points on 1-for-5 shooting, he probably would have felt pretty good about the Wolfpack's chances of walking out of the RBC Center with a win. But little did Sendek or anyone else know that Redick's supporting cast would step up and lift Duke to an 86-74 victory. Center Shelden Williams scored 18 of his 22 points in the second half, and the Blue Devils (12-0, 2-0) also got huge contributions from Daniel Ewing (17 points), Lee Melchionni (16) and freshman DeMarcus Nelson (15) in improving their record to 12-0.
The loss, NC State's fourth in a row and second straight in the ACC, came on a night when All-ACC forward Julius Hodge was held to just three field goals and 13 points. Hodge also had five of his team's 11 turnovers.
But the Wolfpack (10-5, 0-2) may have let the game - if the not the momentum - slip away over the final five minutes of the first half when it was unable to throw a knockout punch. With guard Cameron Bennerman scoring 12 of his team-high 20 points in the opening half, the Pack had the RBC Center rocking with an attacking offensive style that took it right to Duke's vaunted man-to-man defense.
A pair of plays in the first half - a spectacular dunk by Bennerman over Williams and a stuff by freshman Gavin Grant off a lob pass from Bennerman - really got the joint jumping. Then, with just over seven minutes left in the first 20 minutes, Engin Atsur drilled a 3-pointer to give NC State a 28-18 advantage. Not only did the Wolfpack have a double-digit lead, Duke was in foul trouble. Redick and Williams both went to the bench with two fouls apiece.
But just when it looked like the Wolfpack may run away and hide, the Blue Devils got some huge baskets from its unexpected heroes. It started with freshman David MaClure hitting a jumper to bring Duke within four points at 28-24. Melchionni then hit a pair of 3s down the stretch and Nelson added another as the Devils closed to within just 41-38 at the break.
"I think we had some opportunities in the first half to have a lead greater than three points and we did not capitalize in a fashion that would have given us a greater margin going into the half," Sendek said. "They hit some big 3s. I think going in at the half Melchionni had three 3s and Nelson had two. Those two guys really stepped up big for them."
Said NC State forward Ilian Evtimov: "I was thinking we should be up by more than that because we were playing well. Duke wasn't playing as well but they were only three points behind us. We should have been up by double digits. Shelden Williams was in foul trouble and they had their best players on the bench. Players like Melchionni stepped up and hit some big shots. If we are going to win this year, we're going to have to step up on defense."
And in the second half, NC State would have no defense for the powerful Williams, who made seven of his 10 field goal attempts after intermission. Most coming on an old-fashioned pick and roll play, where Williams would set a high ball-screen for Ewing before rolling into the lane, where he would manhandle anyone guarding him, whether it was Evtimov, Jordan Collins or freshman Cedric Simmons.
"I was trying to front Shelden Williams and they would reverse the ball really quick and you would find yourself on the opposite side," Evtimov said. "It's really hard to guard him. Then they would penetrate, you'd go over to help and they would just dump it down to him."
And when Ewing wasn't throwing the ball to Williams after rubbing off his screen, he'd take it himself, looking for drives or 3s coming off the picks.
At one point, Duke scored on nine straight possessions using basically the same play. NC State knew what was coming, but was often helpless to stop it.
Still, NC State had its chances down the stretch. After Jordan Collins buried a 3-point shot to get the Pack within five at 72-67 with 4:50 remaining, NC State got great looks on its next two possessions. The first came when Collins missed an open 3 at the 4:19 mark. On its next trip down following a time-out, Engin Atsur got open off a nifty flare screen, but couldn't get it to go.
Williams then scored on the other end to put Duke up 74-67 with 3:20 left. NC State would only get as close as six on one occasion the rest of the way.
"I'm proud of my guys because State was really ready to play," Krzyzewski said. "The first half was crazy and so many things were happening. Our bench really saved the day for us. For us to get it down to three at halftime was monumental. Melchionni hit some big buckets and so did McClure in the first half. DeMarcus was really good throughout the ballgame. We were able to get Shelden the ball in the second half and he was just magnificent."
Duke lit it up, shooting 51.9 percent for the game (27-of-52). After hitting 50 percent in the opening half, NC State knocked down just 35.7 percent of its field goal attempts in the second 20 minutes and finished up at 43.1 percent. Both teams did well at the free throw line, Duke hitting 25-of-29 and NC State 19-of-24.