Devils Drop Dawgs 63-55

Over a quarter of a century ago Tom Butters defied the critics and extended head Coach Mike Krzyzewski's contract despite his young head coach losing 65 games in three seasons in Durham. Now, 25 years later, Coach K is the NCAA Tournament's All-Time winningest head coach, passing former nemesis Dean Smith after Duke survived a gritty Mississippi State team to advance to a ninth straight Sweet 16.

Tournament win number 66 didn't come easy as the Bulldogs proved unwilling to help elevate Krzyzewski to the record. Quite the contrary as Mississippi State rallied from a double figure second half deficit before ultimately falling.

Senior Daniel Ewing led Duke with 22 points, including nine down the stretch to keep Duke alive and push the Blue Devils into their ninth consecutive Sweet 16.

Down 33-22 on a Sean Dockery three pointer just 90 seconds into the second period, the Bulldogs began slowly chipping away at the lead by going inside and drawing fouls on Duke's Shelden Williams and Shavlik Randolph. After Williams was whistled for his third, Randolph picked up his fourth and went to the bench.

The loss of the Raleigh, NC junior opened up the paint for the Bulldogs who finally made it all the way back when Ontario Harper drove inside and converted a lay-up to give his team it's first lead of the second half at 43-42.

Duke's semi-collapse was aided by the Charlotte Coliseum crowd which was decidedly anti-Duke as many North Carolina fans hung around to root against their conference champions.

With the game tied at 50, J.J. Redick misfired from the perimeter, but Shelden Williams grabbed the offensive board and then powered his way inside to convert and draw a three point play to give Duke the lead for good at 53-50.

Redick was off for much of the game, shooting just 5-of-17 from the field and 2-of-9 from the perimeter. Meanwhile Williams finished with 13 points and 15 rebounds.

Duke moves on to the Regional semifinals in Austin where the Michigan State Spartans await. The Blue Devils beat the Spartans 81-74 early in the season behind a combined 58 points from Redick and Ewing.


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