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No. 1 Duke Takes Notice of Michigan in 81-73 Loss

December 14, 1997|From Associated Press

Conspicuous by its absence in the national rankings, Michigan showed Saturday it should be a force to be reckoned with this season after an 81-73 victory over top-rated Duke at Ann Arbor, Mich.

Center Robert Traylor had 24 points and guard Louis Bullock had 23 as the Wolverines (6-2) overcame a 17-point deficit against the Blue Devils (9-1), who had defeated their previous opponents by an average of 36 points a game.

"After all the things we've been through in the past year, this game shows that we're still Michigan and we're still here," said Traylor, who had 15 points in a second half in which Michigan outscored Duke, 46-27.

The Wolverines are coming off an underachieving 24-11 season in which they failed to qualify for the NCAA tournament, which they had made 11 of 12 previous seasons. Allegations of NCAA violations hung ominously over the program in the off-season, and Coach Steve Fisher was linked to much-scrutinized booster Ed Martin and fired a month before the start of the season. Assistant Brian Ellerbe was named interim coach two weeks later, and the season got off to a shaky start with a loss to Western Michigan.

But Michigan does have a veteran team, with four starters and defensive specialist Maceo Baston back from last season. That experience was a telling factor against freshman-laden Duke, which was outrebounded, 45-29. The 6-foot-8, 280-pound Traylor had 13 rebounds.

"He's so strong, and it's his experience," Blue Devil freshman center Elton Brand said. "I have to adjust to that."

Duke also had 14 turnovers and only eight assists. Michigan, which had been averaging 20 turnovers through its first seven games, had that many again, but Bullock scored 17 of his points--including four of four three-point shooting--to make the difference in a sloppy second half.

"Our team is a really good basketball team, but we didn't play like it in the second half," Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "We didn't play well in transition and Michigan capitalized on that. It seemed like butter was on the ball for us, and that had a lot to do with the game pressure."

A sidelight to the game was Fisher making his first appearance at Crisler Arena since being fired Oct. 11. Fisher was sitting five rows in front of Tom Goss, the new athletic director who fired him.

It also was a homecoming of sorts for Mike Chappell and Shane Battier, two Duke starters who played their high school basketball less than 45 minutes from Crisler Arena. Chappell played at Southfield Lathrup and Battier at Birmingham Detroit Country Day, where he was Mr. Basketball in Michigan last season. Both were steered to Duke by Detroit Piston star Grant Hill, a standout on the 1991-92 Blue Devil team that defeated the Wolverines in the NCAA final.

No. 2 North Carolina 50, No. 22 Princeton 42--The Tar Heels (10-0) will likely move to the top of the Associated Press poll after a victory at Chapel Hill, N.C., and Duke's loss.

It would be North Carolina's first No. 1 ranking since the final Associated Press poll of the 1993-94 season. The Tar Heels are off to their best start since they won their first 21 games in 1985-86.

North Carolina fell behind 11-4 against Princeton (7-1) and trailed for all but 2 1/2 minutes of the first half. The second half wasn't much better until Vince Carter's follow shot with 7:16 left gave the Tar Heels the lead for good at 37-35. An 8-0 run gave them some breathing room.

Princeton held the Atlantic Coast Conference's leading scorer, Antawn Jamison, to a season-low six points, but made only four of 26 three-point shots.

No. 3 Kansas 103, Middle Tennessee 68--Guard Billy Thomas became the career leader in three-point baskets for the Jayhawks (11-1) in their nation-leading 51st consecutive home victory at Lawrence, Kan.

Thomas made two three-pointers during an 18-4 Kansas run in the second half to boost his total of 201 and move him ahead of Terry Brown. He left the game with the Jayhawks ahead, 67-36, and received a standing ovation as his mother, visiting from Louisiana, danced in the stands.

Middle Tennessee (4-2) had won four in a row after an opening loss to North Carolina.

No. 4 Kentucky 85, No. 24 Georgia Tech 71--Heshimu Evans, a reserve forward, scored six points in a 16-5 run that helped the Wildcats (8-1) overcome an 11-point deficit and gain control of the game at Lexington, Ky.

Evans had 14 points and 10 rebounds as Kentucky had a 30-4 edge in scoring from reserves and 51-34 rebounding advantage.

Georgia Tech (5-2) got 27 points from freshman guard Dion Glover and 22 from forward Matt Harpring.

No. 6 Arizona 99, Coppin State 82--The Wildcats (7-2) needed a 9-0 run midway in the second half at Tucson, Ariz., to give Coach Lute Olson his 350th victory in 15 seasons at the school.

Guard Miles Simon, who had only two points--both on free throws--in the first 30 minutes, made a three-point basket and had dunk in the decisive run. Simon finished with 15 points.

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