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Dockery comes to Duke's rescue

Not until after Sean Dockery hit a running 40-footer to win Sunday's thriller and the initial pandemonium died down did the Cameron Crazies finally start chanting the senior's name.

Although the shot will go down as one of the most memorable in Duke history, Dockery's performance over the first 39 minutes and 58 seconds was not to be lost.

Put simply, Dockery had a career game. But until his shocking buzzer-beater went through the net, it seemed as if the crowd hardly recognized his outstanding performance.

He kept Duke alive in the second half on a night when head coach Mike Krzyzewski said the Blue Devils' play at times was uninspired.

"He bailed us all out," freshman Greg Paulus said. "As far as the points given up or the lack of execution on offense, it's a collective responsibility. It's not just he bailed J.J. [Redick] out, he bailed all of us out, because we put ourselves in that position."

Dockery scored Duke's final five points to finish with a career high of 19. He emerged from an early-season slump, making four three-pointers, more than he had in the team's first six games. And on the defensive end, he recorded a season-high six steals.

He did all that coming off a less-than-stellar performance Wednesday against Indiana when he looked lost on the court and scored just two points.

Krzyzewski said the injury sophomore DeMarcus Nelson sustained Nov. 23 changed Dockery's role and made the guard unsure of himself on the court.

"I had a meeting with Coach after the Indiana game and he just told me I work harder than anybody, and I've got the best attitude of anybody he's ever coached," Dockery said. "And when Coach K tells you that, you're going to play your butt off. You're going to have confidence."

Dockery was fearless as he carried himself Sunday.

He drove hard toward the basket and hit a floater with the shot-clock winding down in the first half. And after already nailing two shots from beyond the arc in the second half, the career 32-percent three-point shooter crossed over his defender, pulled up at the top of the key and drilled another to extend Duke's lead to 63-59 with 7:59 remaining.

Accused by the coaching staff of being too passive on offense over the first six games of the season, Dockery appeared as if he wanted the ball down the stretch.

With Redick dribbling the ball at the top of the key and Dockery on the wing in the final minutes, the two seniors made eye contact and Redick tried to deliver the ball to Dockery as he drifted to the corner.

Although the ball was deflected out of bounds, the play exhibited Dockery's faith in his own shot-one in which he has spent countless hours improving-and his teammate's trust in him.

"We've always had confidence in him," Paulus said. "He's been playing really well in practice the last couple weeks. He's been shooting the ball great. I think we all knew he was going to have a breakout game, and this was definitely one. It was not just the last shot. He played terrific the whole 40 minutes."

On defense, the Chicago native was just as solid, making several key stops on Jamon Gordon over the final few minutes, including one that nearly sealed the game with 11 ticks remaining on the clock and Duke clinging to a two-point lead.

As Gordon brought the ball up the court, Dockery cleanly knocked it away, but as he dove for the loose ball, he was whistled for a foul.

"I thought Sean won the game when he stole the ball at half court," Krzyzewski said. "Sometimes those basketball gods work in mysterious ways. I thought he made a winning play there, and he ended up making the winning shot."


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