Game Day: Duke (31-5) vs. UConn (31-6)

The Blue Devils will face favored Connecticut in the national semifinal round of the 2004 NCAA Tournament Saturday night in San Antonio. The game, which matches the top two teams in both the AP and Coaches' Poll, is the late game of the Saturday double header. <I></I> runs down the match up and all the critical news and notes.

Game Facts:

Duke (31-5, 13-3 ACC), the Atlanta Regional champion, will face Phoenix Regional champion Connecticut (31-6, 12-4 Big East) in the national semifinals on Saturday, April 3 in San Antonio, Texas. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:47 p.m. The game will be broadcast nationally by CBS.

The Series:

Date              Score                   Note 
Mar. 14, 1964	Duke 101, UConn 54      NCAA1
Dec. 14, 1976	Duke 64, UConn 62 (ot)
Mar. 24, 1990	Duke 79, UConn 78 (ot)  NCAA2
Mar. 22, 1991	Duke 81, UConn 67       NCAA3
Nov. 29, 1994	UConn 90, Duke 86
Mar. 29, 1999	UConn 77, Duke 74       NCAA4
Nov. 12, 1999	UConn 71, Duke 66

1 - NCAA Regional Finals (Raleigh, N.C.)
2 - NCAA Regional Finals (E. Rutherford, N.J.)
3 - NCAA Regional Semifinals (Pontiac, Mich.)
4 - NCAA Championship (St. Petersburg, Fla.)

Duke leads the all-time series with Connecticut, 4-3, dating back to 1964. Four of the seven games have come in NCAA Tournament play, with the Blue Devils picking up postseason wins in 1964, 1990 and 1991 while the Huskies earned a 77-74 victory over Duke in the 1999 NCAA title contest.

The Huskies have won the past three meetings between the two schools by a total of 12 points. The last six games between Duke and Connecticut have been decided by an average of 4.8 points, with the 1976 and 1990 tilts going to overtime.


*- Duke is making its 14th appearance in the Final Four, moving into a second-place tie with UCLA on the all-time list (North Carolina - 15).

*- Under coach Mike Krzyzewski, the Blue Devils are advancing to the Final Four for the 10th time. Duke holds an all-time record of 9-4 in national semifinal tilts, including a 7-2 ledger in such games under Krzyzewski.

*- Duke is 33-5 as a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and earned national titles from this seed in 1992 and 2001

*- Since 1985, Duke's Mike Krzyzewski has 64 NCAA Tournament victories, 29 more than the next-closest coaches (North Carolina's Roy Williams and Arizona's Lute Olson each have 35 NCAA wins during this period)

*- The two head coaches — Duke's Mike Krzyzewski and Connecticut's Jim Calhoun — have combined for 1,372 career coaching wins. Krzyzewski (694) and Calhoun (678) rank 17th and 18th, respectively, on the NCAA Division I all time coaching victory chart.

*- With 64 career NCAA Tournament wins, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski stands one victory shy of matching the all-time record of 65 held by North Carolina's Dean Smith.

*- Chris Duhon's 38 steals in NCAA Tournament games rank tied for second all-time with Kentucky's Wayne Turner and behind only Duke's Grant Hill (39).

*- Shelden Williams is having a fine NCAA Tournament run for the Blue Devils, averaging 13.8 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.3 blocked shots, 1.0 assists and 1.0 steals per game. Williams is shooting .581 (18-of-31) from the floor and .905 (19-of-21) from the foul line.

*- Led by Chris Duhon's perfect 11-of-11 accuracy, all five Duke starters are shooting at least .737 from the foul line in NCAA Tournament play (Duhon - 1.000; Shelden Williams - .905; J.J. Redick - .900; Luol Deng - .842; Daniel Ewing- .737)

*- By virtue of this year's 2004 Final Four berth, every Duke class from 1986 to 2007 except one (1998) will have played in at least one Final Four.

*- Now with 31 victories this season, Duke has reached the 20-win plateau for the 39th time in school history, including the last eight seasons in succession. Duke now has eight 30-win seasons — all have come under Coach K and the eight 30-win seasons are an NCAA record by a coach.

*- Duke has been very balanced offensively this season as five players — J.J. Redick (19.0), Luol Deng (15.1), Shelden Williams (12.9), Daniel Ewing (12.7) and Chris Duhon (9.9) — are averaging at least 9.9 points per game.

*- The Blue Devils have limited opponents to a .404 field goal percentage overall, a .319 three-point percentage and 64.6 points per game. In addition, Duke has averaged 6.6 blocked shots (school record is 6.3 in 1998-99) and 17.2 forced turnovers per game this season.

*- Shelden Williams has blocked a team- and ACC-best 109 shots this season, while Shavlik Randolph (60) and Luol Deng (39) each have at least 39 rejections so far this year. Williams leads the league in blocked shots, Randolph ranks third and Deng is eighth among the ACC leaders.

Meet the Huskies:

Probable Starting Lineup: 
   Taliek Brown (6-1, 200, G, Sr.) – 6.2 ppg, 6.6 apg
   Ben Gordon (6-2, 195, G, Jr.) – 18.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 4.6 apg, 44% 3pt
   Denham Brown (6-5, 205, F, So.) – 9.2 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 43% 3pt
   Josh Boone (6-10, 230, F/C, Fr.) – 5.8 ppg, 5.6 rpg
   Emeka Okafor (6-9, 252, C, Jr.) – 17.4 ppg, 11.6 rpg, 4.2 bpg
Key Reserves: 
   Charlie Villanueva (6-11, 230, F, Fr.) – 9.3 ppg, 5.4 rpg
   Rashad Anderson (6-5, 190, G, So.) – 11.0 ppg, 2.8 rpg
   Hilton Armstrong (6-10, 210, F, So.) – 2.5 ppg, 2.6 rpg
   Shannon Tooles (6-5, 225, F, Sr.) – 0.7 ppg, 1.2 rpg

The Blue Devils and Huskies have a rich NCAA Tournament history, but things are different this time around as it will be Duke assuming the role of ‘underdog'. It's easy to see why Connecticut is favored, having rolled through their regional with unheard of ease. Meanwhile Duke struggled with Big Ten Champs Illinois followed by, perhaps, the hottest team in the tournament in Xavier.

The UConn game plan begins inside where National Player of the Year candidate Emeka Okafor has established himself as the premiere big man in college hoops. At 6-foot-9 he can score with a variety of post moves, and then can switch ends of the floor where he's the nation's best shot blocker with over four per contest. The only downside with him are the numerous injuries that continue to multiply.

6-foot-10 freshman Josh Boone starts at the power forward position where he's been a solid presence on the boards and with altering shots. The last spot on the front line is occupied by Denham Brown, a 6'5 slasher who can get to the rim and is a very good athlete. He's also got a good touch from behind the arc where he's hitting nearly 46% of his attempts.

The backcourt is headlined by scorer Ben Gordon, who torched Alabama for 36 points in the regional final. Unlike most guards in the country Gordon is a complete scorer who can hurt you off the dribble or with his jump shot. He's also a terrific rebounder from the off guard position, and can distribute when asked. Alongside Gordon is four year starter Taliek Brown who brings a steady hand to the high octane UConn offense.

Off the bench the Huskies have gotten good production from Rashad Anderson, who has proven the ability to be a first scoring option whenever given the chance. He's one of the better shooters from the arc still around. The front court is boosted by freshman Charlie Villanueva, who played with Deng at Blair Academy. At 6-foot-10 he's able to bang inside and rebound, but can also step out knock down perimeter jumpers.

What Needs to Happen:

Duke needs to keep Williams out of foul trouble against Okafor. Shelden will provide close to a mirror image of Emeka, which is something he's yet to see to this point. This will almost certainly be a measuring stick for Williams, who has shown the ability to be dominant (he leads the ACC in career double-doubles), but has also shown the ability to be a non-factor. Duke has to have the former situation to have a chance.

Brown has been known to struggle from the field, which means Duke will have the ability to keep a fresh defender on Gordon and Anderson as much as possible. Look for Duhon to draw Gordon starting off or if he gets hot against another Duke defender. The real concern for Duke will be preventing the guards from getting off as they have done in every tournament game so far.

If the game is close going down the stretch, you have to like Duke's chances as UConn is a pitiful free throw shooting team. And while Duke has struggled at times this year from the line, no player is shooting less than 74% in the tournament to date.

Ultimately this will come down to which team can exploit the match-ups the most. Duke will have trouble with UConn's size if fouls become an issue for Williams, Shavlik Randolph, and Nick Horvath. However the Huskies have no real answer for Luol Deng's abilities, and they have a worry with Okafor's true health level.

For Duke to win it will take a big performance from the post trio of Horvath, Williams, and Randolph, while at least one of Redick and Ewing must be hitting from the field.

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