Two years of frustration in the NCAA tournament ended Saturday when All-American guard Johnny Dawkins led top-ranked Duke into the NCAA East Regional semifinals with an 89-61 victory over Old Dominion at Greensboro, N.C.
The victory raised the Blue Devils' record to 34-2 and sent them to East Rutherford, N.J., where Friday they will play DePaul, which defeated Oklahoma Saturday, 74-69.
In the two seasons preceding this one, Duke was ousted by Washington in the first round of the West Regional and by Boston College in the second round of the Midwest Regional.
After escaping with a narrow victory over Mississippi Valley State in an opening-round game, Duke got its game back on track as Dawkins scored 25 points, hitting 10 of 12 from the field.
"We had one game where we didn't play as well as we thought we could play, and we had this game where we played as good as we've played all year," Dawkins said. "I think we're looking forward to playing that way in the rest of the tournament--but one game at a time."
The Duke defense was outstanding, as evidenced by Old Dominion's 22 turnovers, 41% field-goal shooting and 37-29 rebounding deficit.
"They're a good basketball team," Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "We were an outstanding basketball team today."
Old Dominion Coach Tom Young said the outcome made Duke's strength apparent. "I think Duke came out, got it together and really came at us," he said.
Duke's full-court man-to-man defense forced the Monarchs into 11 turnovers in the first half, allowing the Blue Devils to open a 17-9 lead in the first eight minutes.
A 14-5 run gave Duke its biggest lead of the half at 43-26 with 3:29 left. The Blue Devils led, 43-31, at intermission.
Duke continued the runaway in the second half as Dawkins scored six straight points, giving the Blue Devils a 71-48 lead with 8:07 left.
Mark Alarie added 13 points for Duke, while Jay Bilas, Tommy Amaker and Danny Ferry scored 10 apiece.
Kenny Gattison scored 17 points to lead Old Dominion (23-8).
DePaul 74, Oklahoma 69--Dallas Comegys sank consecutive inside jumpers in the closing three minutes to thwart an Oklahoma rally, which brought the Sooners within a point twice, at 50-49 on Tim McCalister's inside move with 14:04 left and at 64-63 on Anthony Bowie's layup with 3:58 remaining.
Oklahoma never got a shot at the lead, however, and DePaul pulled away to raise its record to 18-12.
"Today, Dallas really wanted the basketball and we were able to do a good job and get it to him," DePaul Coach Joey Meyer said.
Oklahoma Coach Billy Tubbs reflected his team's disappointment by not bringing any of his players to the postgame news conference.
"We're not very happy right now, and I hope you will understand why I don't feel like dissecting the game." Tubbs said.
Comegys sank the first of two short jumpers with 2:33 left for a 66-63 Blue Demon lead. After McCalister scored again, Comegys followed with a 10-foot shot inside the lane with 2:05 remaining.
Darryl Kennedy led Oklahoma (26-9) with 21 points.