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Duke headed for Anaheim, Sweet 16

SALT LAKE CITY -- After surviving a first-round scare against Colorado State two days previously, the men's basketball team took the court at the Huntsman Center Saturday and promptly pummeled Central Michigan 86-60. Dahntay Jones scored a game-high 28 points and the third-seeded Blue Devils employed suffocating defense to put away the Chippewas, the 11th seed in the West region.

Despite the convincing rout, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski paid great respect to a Central Michigan team that had upset Creighton, at one time ranked 15th nationally, to advance into the second round.

"My hat goes off to Central Michigan for having such an outstanding season," he said. "They're extremely well coached. I thought we wore them down."

After waiting an extra half hour to play while Gonzaga and Arizona finished out their classic double-overtime thriller, Duke immediately established itself as the dominant team, using a 9-1 run to jump out to an 18-10 lead, just six minutes into the contest. Jones scored 12 of those points and would finish the opening stanza with 18.

Jones' performance comes on the heels of a 23-point outburst Thursday, in which he opened the game by pouring in the Blue Devils' first 11 points.

"He's a senior star," Krzyzewski said. "He's developed into that. As a result of hard work he's become an outstanding player."

Another key offensive weapon for Duke was guard J.J. Redick, who poured in 26 points, despite missing practice Friday with heavy congestion and a weak overall feeling.

Redick's three-point shooting ignited Duke's game-opening 14-3 run late in the second half. The freshman hit two treys and added a layup, as a 26-22 advantage at the 8:18 mark evolved into a 40-25 edge five minutes later.

Although Krzyzewski lavished praise on his freshman for his toughness, Redick downplayed battling through illness.

"Obviously I was well-enough to play," he said, though not entirely convincingly after breaking into a prolonged coughing session.

Completing a potent triumvirate, junior point guard Chris Duhon played perhaps his best game in weeks, scoring 16 points, dishing out eight assists and picking off six steals.

"I thought Chris was magnificent," Krzyzewski said.

Duhon also represented the Blue Devils' commitment to outworking the Chippewas. Even though Duke never led by fewer than 14 points in the second half, the 6-foot-3 guard continued to hurl himself after loose balls, and appeared to take quite a beating in the process.

"There's no time for shoulda-coulda-woulda [now]," Duhon said. "Even with a 14-point lead you are never safe, especially with the three-pointer. We're going to play until the buzzer, and play as hard as we can."

Offensively spectacular, particularly in the first half when it shot 60.7 percent from the floor, Duke delivered a dominant defensive performance as well. The Blue Devils forced 21 turnovers, and held Central Michigan center Chris Kaman relatively in check.

The 7-foot NBA prospect finished with 25 points and 10 rebounds, a very respectable statline, but his teammates, who carried Central Michigan to victory Thursday night when Kaman fought fatigue to score just 12 points, looked overwhelmed against Duke's aggressive man-to-man pressure.

"Defense was the primary concern," Jones said.

Krzyzewski thought his team's ability to deny the Chippewas a perimeter game ensured his team's victory.

"We played very good defense here in Salt Lake," he said. "We wouldn't have won against Colorado State.... My feeling is you don't advance--at least our teams don't advance--unless you play good defense."

Confident and seemingly peaking at the right time, Duke took time to reflect on the maturation of its young team, from raw to battle-tested.

"They're growing up, and that's not something a lot of people have allowed our group to do," Krzyzewski said. "We didn't come in a well-oiled machine-and I'm not saying we are now--but we've had to learn, and we've won.... during spring break we were able to get back to the fundamentals of playing good man-to-man defense."


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