CHARLOTTE -- Shavlik Randolph defended point guards, Shelden Williams took guards off the dribble and 6-foot-6 David McClure spent stretches playing center.
Yes, top-seeded Duke (26-5) beat 16th-seeded Delaware State (19-14) in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Friday. But it was anything but conventional and far from what the Blue Devils had hoped.
"We didn't play well," admitted Blue Devil head coach Mike Krzyzewski, who won his record-tying 65th NCAA Tournament game.
Early on, Duke attempted to pound the ball inside against Delaware State, which did not have a starter taller than 6-foot-7. The quicker Hornets collapsed on Williams, who finished with only three field goals.
But Williams still drew fouls and opened up perimeter opportunities for Sean Dockery, who returned after missing six games with a torn medial collateral ligament. The junior swished two threes to help give Duke an early 12-3 advantage.
Delaware State befuddled Duke all night with a spread offense that featured five different ball-handlers. The quicker Hornets extended Randolph and Williams into the open floor, clearing the lane for numerous drive opportunities.
A layup by Aaron Williams with 11:51 gave the Hornets a 16-13 advantage. Delaware State shot 54 percent from the field and entered halftime down just eight, which gave the approximately 500 Hornet faithful in attendance hope for a monumental upset.
"They put a lineup in that gave them some mismatches, and they were able to use their mismatches better than us," Krzyzewski said.
After the half, however, the Blue Devils clamped down defensively. Duke allowed just two field goals in the first 13 minutes of the second half, building a 55-35 advantage.
Delaware State would not go quietly, however. The Hornets used an 8-0 run with five minutes remaining to get back in striking distance, and Troy Roundtree's three-pointer with 1:45 remaining cut Duke's lead to nine. Daniel Ewing sank two free throws just 16 seconds later to end the Delaware State threat.
"Once we had a 20-point lead, they didn't give up and they hit shots," Krzyzewski said. "They played a hell of a game, and however we played, they made us play that way."
The victory gives Krzyzewski 65 career tournament wins, tying him with former North Carolina coach Dean Smith for the NCAA record.... Delaware State held ACC Player of the Year J.J. Redick to just seven points on 1-for-7 shooting, nearly 16 below his season average.... After shooting better than 54 percent from the field in the first half, Delaware State was held to just 21 percent shooting in the second half.... The Blue Devils face Mississippi State, 93-70 winners over Stanford, Sunday afternoon.
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