Friday, March 21, 2008

DUKE: WHAT HAPPENED TO US?

C’mon Duke, get it together. You used to be good.

The headline in Durham must read G-HEN FOR PRESIDENT after he saved the Blue Devils season last night.

Look, we love to poke fun at Coach K2 and his should-be-blue Devils, but how about a little ACC pride here? It’s bad enough that Big (L)East fans are running around saying their conference is the best since 17 of their 42 teams snuck into the tournament, now you and go throw gas on the fire by endeavoring to replicate last year’s first round exit via VCU.

Jeez.

Duke’s intimidation factor in the NCAA tourney is clearly long gone. Fifteen-seed Belmont (25-9) reminded the nation of that Thursday when the Bruins nearly pulled off an improbable upset of the second-seeded Blue Devils.

But, Belmont Coach Rick Byrd called a questionable time out (props to Young A.T. who questioned it in real time) with the lead and that seemed to break the spell.

Using every last one of Henderson's 21 points, including the go-ahead basket with 11.9 seconds left, and one key steal by DeMarcus Nelson, Duke barely avoided what would have been a monumental upset, edging Belmont 71-70 in the first round of the West Regional.

In winning, Duke (28-5) snapped a two-game tournament losing streak and advanced to face West Virginia, a 75-65 winner over Arizona, on Saturday.

Duke shot 43% and made only 6 of 21 three pointers (29%) while committing 15 turnovers. They will have to do better to get by Bob Huggins Mountaineers.

Gerald Henderson #15 of the Duke Blue Devils drives to score the game winning shot against Matthew Dotson #30 and Justin Hare#24 of the Belmont Bruins during the first round of the West Regional as part of the 2008 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the Verizon Center on March 20, 2008 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Michael Heiman/Getty Images)

Belmont bench. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

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