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Roles refined in final exhibition

For the second straight exhibition game, Shelden William dominated in the paint. The big man threw down 25 points and opened up the perimeter for J.J. Redick, who hit 4-of-7 from long range. Daniel Ewing and Sean Dockery shared the point guard responsibilities.

The men’s basketball team scored 46 points in the paint, 27 from behind the arc and 16 from the foul line Thursday night.

Relying on their post players and long-range shooters, the Blue Devils dominated N.C. Central 95-58 in the final exhibition game, scoring just six mid-range points.

Center Shelden Williams—who put in 25 points on the night—slammed down an emphatic dunk, sending an Eagles defender to the floor. On the subsequent inbounds pass, the Blue Devils immediately snatched the ball and relayed it to Daniel Ewing. Beyond the three-point line, Ewing squared and scored to bump Duke’s lead to 35.

This inside-outside action epitomized the Blue Devils’ play as they capitalized on their talents.

“Inside play is definitely a strength of the team,” forward Shavlik Randolph said. “So, we’ll obviously play to that.”

Randolph and Williams have exploded in each of Duke’s exhibition matches this season—they scored 35 combined points against N.C. Central and 54 in Duke’s first exhibition win over St. Francis Xavier.

“They are the two most competitive players I have every played against,” N.C. Central forward Jonathan Moore said. “They are very strong.”

Duke’s has used its first two exhibition games to further define individual roles, while Williams and Randolph refined theirs. Head coach Mike Krzyzewski expects this process to continue when Duke opens its season against Tennessee-Martin Nov. 20.

“The role doesn’t change, no matter whom they go in with or whom they go in for,” Krzyzewski said. “They must assume their own roles. With this team, it is even more important to define these roles.”

J.J. Redick went 4-for-7 from three-point range as Williams and Randolph lured the Eagles defense inside. Duke’s other guards also benefited from the open outside looks. Ewing sank a trio of three-pointers and Lee Melchionni and Sean Dockery each added one.

The Blue Devils have still not definitively filled the point guard slot. Ewing and Dockery alternated running the offense, yet neither clearly commanded the position. For each player, becoming the team’s offensive leader has been an adjustment.

“It’s a difficult task rallying the team making sure everybody is in the right spots,” Ewing said of the position. “It is difficult, but we’re in great shape with all the conditioning.”

David McClure—who expected to be a role player off the bench—has adjusted well to the position, playing primarily off the ball. Gathering seven boards and nabbing three steals, McClure scored both of his baskets after recovering a teammate’s missed opportunity.

“You just have to stay hungry on every play,” McClure said. “You’ve got to value the ball. When you see the ball, you just have to go after it, and that’s what I do.”

N.C. Central was aggressive inside, fouling Duke 25 times. Forward Mintrel Abney and center Jason Hervey fouled out at the beginning of the second half, leaving the Eagles to depend almost solely on Moore to defend in the paint.

“I was pleased with this game,” Krzyzewski said. “I thought it was very competitive. You know we’re more talented, but I thought they played as hard as we did. I thought they played with just the same amount of purpose.... They played with a lot of pride, never let up.”

With the mismatch of talent, it was no surprise that the Blue Devils would run away with the win, but as the regular season quickly approaches, Krzyzewski said Duke will need to prove its dominance against teams with comparable talent.

“A lot of people have said that we don’t have a lot of depth, but we’ve shown that we can go at least eight or nine deep,” Williams said. “We have the same number of guys as most teams, and we keep using those seventh, eighth and ninth guys and they keep stepping up and continuing to progress.”

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