Forget what happened last week or the week before or the week before that. It's mid-March--tournament time for Duke.
"We want to play well all the time, but especially in the NCAA tournament," Coach Mike Krzyzewski said Thursday night after his Blue Devils got serious about defending their consecutive titles by opening the Midwest Regional at Rosemont, Ill.with a 105-70 victory over Southern Illinois.
"We're very proud of the fact that we won two national championships the last two years. We feel we can be beaten by anybody in the tournament, but we also think we can play with anybody as long as we don't beat ourselves."
No chance Thursday.
Duke (24-7), which entered the tournament with a two-game losing streak, played one of its best games of the season and earned the right to meet California in Saturday's second round.
The Blue Devils set a school record for points in an NCAA game, made a regional-record 14 of 19 shots from three-point range, shot 63.2% overall and enjoyed their most lopsided postseason victory since a 35-point blowout of Campbell in 1990.
Duke, the region's third-seeded team and No. 10 in the nation, has won its last six first-round games by an average of 27 points. The first five times, Duke reached the Final Four.
"I think they're ready to make that run to defend their title," said Southern Illinois Coach Rich Herrin, whose Salukis (23-10) were held to 40% shooting and were never in the game.
Bobby Hurley had 25 points--including six three-pointers--and seven assists as the Blue Devils won their 13th consecutive postseason game. Hurley, who holds the NCAA record with 1,067 assists, also holds the tournament mark with 136 and has led Duke to an 18-1 tournament record.
Kansas 94, Ball State 72--Led by Rex Walters, who made all six of his three-point shots and scored 23 points, the second-seeded Jayhawks shot 56.3% and wore down the 15th-seeded Cardinals (26-6).
Kansas (26-6), the nation's ninth-ranked team, will meet Brigham Young on Saturday.
The Jayhawks is 16-0 when shooting better than 50%. But they were coming off a 38.8% performance in a Big Eight tournament loss to Kansas State and had not made more than half of their shots in 12 previous games.
"It was a challenge because everybody, the last couple of weeks, has been putting us in the grave and talking about how poorly we've been playing," Kansas Coach Roy Williams said.
Brigham Young 80, Southern Methodist 71--The Mustangs (20-8) shot only 36% from the field and 50% from the free-throw line in the loss.
"I heard a guy say that was an ugly game. How can you say that about an NCAA game?" BYU Coach Roger Reid said.
Easy. His Cougars (25-8) did their part with 19 turnovers.
Southern Methodist trailed by as many as 14 points in the opening half but drew within two early in the second half. The Cougars responded with a three-pointer from Gary Trost--who led all scorers with 26 points--and a dunk by Russell Larson to go in front, 46-39.