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College basketball

Defense keeps Duke on target for No. 1

©Associated Press
January 3, 2003

DURHAM, N.C. -- The offensive efficiency may not be there just yet for Duke, but the defense is coming along fine.

Dahntay Jones scored 22 and J.J. Redick had 20 as the third-ranked Blue Devils used their defense to overcome poor shooting and beat Fairfield 86-58 Thursday.

Freshman Shelden Williams added 16 points and 10 rebounds for Duke, which improved to 8-0 for the 11th time in 23 seasons under coach Mike Krzyzewski. The Blue Devils also won their 17th straight home game and ran their non-Atlantic Coast Conference record at Cameron Indoor Stadium under Krzyzewski to 163-8.

The Blue Devils are poised to rise to the top of the Associated Press rankings Monday after losses by No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Pittsburgh this week. They open conference play Sunday night at Clemson.

"I like it; we always want to be No. 1," said Redick, who was 7-of-13 from the field. "We're Duke and we have the No. 1 program in the country, and we want to stay No. 1."

Duke held a double-digit lead for most of the game but shot 39 percent and was slow to put away the Stags. Still, the Blue Devils held the Stags to 37 percent shooting, blocked 11 shots, had 11 steals and forced 23 turnovers.

The Blue Devils took advantage of their opportunities, getting 20 points off turnovers and hitting 25 of 34 free throws.

Consider it another learning experience for a young team that has two seniors among its top nine players.

"I think we're becoming a better defensive team and we're starting to realize that defense is going to win ballgames for us," said junior Chris Duhon, who shot 1-for-11 but had 10 assists.

"We have to learn how to control our speeds. If we're going 100 miles per hour on the defensive end, we can't do that on the offensive end. We have to learn to settle down, execute and take good shots."

Krzyzewski improved to 16-0 against his former assistant coaches. Fairfield coach Tim O'Toole was an assistant at Duke for the 1996-97 season.

Meanwhile, Duke announced that reserve guard Andy Borman will not join the team for personal reasons this season. Borman, a 6-foot-1 senior, has not practiced or played this season and is expected to return next season.

NO. 5 UCONN 95, ST. BONAVENTURE 78: Ben Gordon scored 25 and Emeka Okafor added 18 as the host Huskies remained unbeaten.

Connecticut is one of four unbeaten Division I teams remaining. The others -- Duke, Wake Forest and Clemson -- are from the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The Huskies avenged last season's 18-point loss to the Bonnies, one of their two home losses. That proved to be the turnaround game for UConn, which reached the NCAA region final.

Gordon led UConn's 3-point shooting assault as the Huskies shot 60 percent from behind the arc (12-of-20). He scored 13 in a 22-5 run early in the second half, capping the spurt with consecutive 3-pointers.

Okafor dominated inside with five blocks and 14 rebounds to give the Huskies a 46-40 edge on the boards.

NO. 8 MISS. ST. 68, UAB 52: Mario Austin scored 13 and Michal Ignerski added 12 for the visiting Bulldogs.

Winsome Frazier had 10 points for Mississippi State and led a defense that held the Blazers' leading scorer, Morris Finley, to two points in the first half. Finley, who entered averaging 18.5 points, finished with 15.

Alabama-Birmingham's trapping defense helped force 23 Mississippi State turnovers, but the much taller Bulldogs had a 43-28 rebounding edge and held the Blazers to 36 percent shooting.

NO. 18 KANSAS 102, N.C.-ASHEVILLE 50: Nick Collison scored 20 and Wayne Simien had 19 points and nine rebounds to lead the host Jayhawks.

Kansas, which started 1-3 but has won five straight, was much quicker and taller than the preseason Big South favorite and forced 26 turnovers.

Collison, a 6-foot-9 senior, was 9-of-10 from the field as the Jayhawks scored 58 in the paint to four for the outmanned Bulldogs. Keith Langford added 18 points for Kansas.

NO. 20 KENTUCKY 94, ALCORN ST. 63: Chuck Hayes scored 15 and the host Wildcats forced a season-high 28 turnovers.

Erik Daniels had 12 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists for Kentucky, which shot 52 percent (34-of-65) and won easily despite getting outrebounded 40-36. Lee Cook scored 15 for the Braves, who lost for the eighth time in nine games.

The Wildcats took a 7-0 lead before Alcorn State attempted a shot.

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