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Tough Time for Duke in Victory

March 21, 2003|Chris Dufresne | Times Staff Writer

SALT LAKE CITY — Where was the love?

Not here and not for Duke.

Accustomed to first-round NCAA draws worthy of its basketball pedigree -- preferably close to home -- Duke was shipped West for only the second time in school history and found itself in a hostile environment against a pest of an opponent.

The last time Duke was sent to the West Region, in 1984, the Blue Devils lost to Washington in Pullman, Wash.

Thursday night, before a crowd of 14,568 at the Huntsman Center, third-seeded Duke almost suffered a similar fate but held on to defeat Colorado State, 67-57.

With 1:54 left, Colorado State had two free throws and a chance to tie Duke at 59, but Shelton Johnson missed both shots, setting off an 8-0 Duke run to close the game.

"They played their butts off," Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "I can't believe they are a 14 seed."

Duke turned to two freshmen when it mattered most.

Shelden Williams' follow shot with 1:20 left extended the Duke lead to four and, after Colorado State turned the ball over on a traveling call, Williams was fouled and sank two free throws with 44 seconds left.

Freshman guard J.J. Redick added two more free throws with 26 seconds left to end any comeback threat.

Colorado State got into the tournament only after winning the Mountain West Conference tournament. The Rams finished 5-9 in conference play.

Duke (25-6) was led by forward Dahntay Jones' 23 points.

Sophomore center Matt Nelson led Colorado State (19-14) with 21 points.

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