Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski had a sneak preview Sunday of what could happen to a No. 1-seeded team in this year's NCAA tournament. Then, Shane Battier helped pick up the Blue Devils off the cutting-room floor.
Battier had 21 points, eight rebounds and a career-high eight blocked shots in No. 1-seeded Duke's 69-64 victory over Kansas in the NCAA East Regional.
"When you get into the tournament, teams don't know your tendencies all the time, so something that may not be as effective in the ACC all of the sudden becomes a lot more effective here," said Battier, whose shot-blocking in particular helped alter the course of the game for Duke (29-4). "That was the case today. They didn't think I was a great shot-blocker and they took it to me."
For a view of big tournament picture, Krzyzewski had peeked through a curtain before the game to catch of glimpse on TV of North Carolina beating Stanford--the second No. 1-seeded team to fall before the round of 16. Arizona, the West Regional's No. 1-seeded team, lost to Wisconsin Saturday.
It appeared Duke could be next after its worst start of the season in which it missed 13 of 15 shots and committed six turnovers to fall behind by nine points to No. 8-seeded Kansas after eight minutes. The Blue Devils finally got squared away and led by nine before having to hold off the Jayhawks to earn a round-of-16 berth against Florida on Friday in Syracuse N.Y.
Kansas (24-10) missed 12 of its first 13 shots in the second half, but forced Duke to make 13 of its season-high 23 turnovers and took a 64-63 lead with 1:18 left on a three-point play by Nick Bradford.
Freshman Carlos Boozer put Duke back in front with a follow shot with 53.5 seconds left, then made a steal of a pass by Bradford 29 seconds later. Chris Carrawell and Jason Williams each made two free throws for Duke over the final 24.7 seconds, while Kirk Hinrich missed a three-point shot with seven seconds left that could have tied the game.
The victory was the 50th in the NCAA tournament for Krzyzewski, who got into an argument with Kansas Coach Roy Williams near the Duke bench during a timeout in the first half.
While Krzyzewski was talking to an official, Williams--a former North Carolina assistant under Dean Smith--walked the length of the scorer's table to find out what was going on. The coaches had a heated exchange before being separated by a referee.
Krzyzewski, however, didn't get heated up afterward over Duke's subpar play.
"You look at the stats and you probably said we didn't play well," said Krzyzewski, whose team shot 37% and had only two three-point baskets after averaging 12 in its previous seven games. "I thought we played really well. It was a game that we forced a lot of mistakes on them and they forced us to make a lot of mistakes. It wasn't like mindless turnovers."
Florida 93, Illinois 76--The No. 5 Gators (26-7) reached the round of 16 in back-to-back years for the first time as their fast-breaking style and full-court pressure proved too much for the deliberate and physical No. 4 Illini (22-10).
Florida shot 54% and scored 53 points in a second half in which it dominated Illinois. The Illini shot 39% for the game and had 15 turnovers.
Freshman reserve guard Brett Nelson had 16 points and three steals for the Gators, who had to go through a crucial first-half stretch without top player Mike Miller because of foul trouble. Nelson made four of six three-point shots and Miller came back in the second half to score 13 of his 19 points.
Florida's victory came against former coach Lon Kruger, who led the Gators to the Final Four in 1994 and went to Illinois in 1997.