THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT Copyright (c) 1996, Landmark Communications, Inc. DATE: Friday, March 15, 1996 TAG: 9603150597 SECTION: SPORTS PAGE: C2 EDITION: FINAL SOURCE: BY STEVE CARLSON, STAFF WRITER DATELINE: INDIANAPOLIS LENGTH: Medium: 78 lines
Eastern Michigan's quick guards led to an uncharacteristic quick NCAA tournament exit for Duke Thursday.
Ninth-seeded Eastern Michigan feasted on Duke's backcourt for a 75-60 first-round victory in the Southeast Regional at the RCA Dome. The eighth-seeded Blue Devils - who came in with the best winning percentage (.767) in NCAA tournament play - had not lost a first-round game since 1955.
The Duke aura was good for about a half before the Mid-American Conference champion Eagles (25-5) took over.
``In the first half we were looking at `Duke' on their shirt, and not thinking about playing the guy in the shirt,'' guard Brian Tolbert said. ``In the second half, we settled down and thought about playing the guys in the shirts.''
As Tolbert backcourt mate Earl Boykins pointed out, in those shirts the Blue Devils ``don't have any All-Americans.''
Last year, when Eastern Michigan lost a double-overtime National Invitation Tournament game to Bradley, the 5-foot-7, 140-pound Boykins was so dejected he climbed into his locker and closed the door.
Boykins had no reason to hide Thursday. The whippet-quick point guard had game highs of 23 points, five assists and four steals. And Boykins and Tolbert (20 points, three steals) combined to virtually shut down Chris Collins and Jeff Capel, the Blue Devils' leading scorers.
Collins, guarded primarily by Boykins, made a pair of 3-pointers in the game's first four minutes. He didn't score again until 9:36 remained in the game and finished with 11 points. Capel finished with 15 points, but scored eight of them in the final five minutes when the Eagles had a double-digit lead.
Capel and Collins made a combined 10 of 25 shots, and Collins committed seven turnovers.
``I think the key to their ballgame was their perimeter defense,'' said coach Mike Krzyzewski, whose team finished 18-13, his worst record in a full season as the Blue Devils' coach since the 1982-83 team went 11-17. Krzyzewski missed the final 19 games of last season with a back ailment.
``One of the things they did best was pressure the basketball,'' Krzyzewski said. ``I thought their defense just dominated us.''
Collins had scored 99 points in his previous four games, but Krzyzewski said he was still feeling the effects of missing the ACC tournament with a foot injury and an illness earlier in the week.
Even at his best, Collins would have trouble with Boykins' quickness. Boykins disrupted Collins defensively, then on offense was able to penetrate if the defense played him tight, or pull up for the jumper if he was given too much room.
``In his own way, he's quite a dominant force on the floor,'' Eastern Michigan coach Ben Braun said.
If Duke got by Eastern Michigan's over-extended defense on the perimeter, Theron Wilson (five blocks) gave the Blue Devils problems inside.
``They're a very good defensive team,'' Collins said. ``They have a lot of speed and they're strong and they've got a big guy in there that blocks shots. That's a good mix.''
The Eagles dominated the second half, shooting 69 percent from the floor and outrebounding Duke by five.
Eastern Michigan broke a 26-26 halftime tie with an 11-2 run to start the second half. Duke cut the margin to 52-46 with 7:08 remaining, but coming out of a timeout the Eagles rattled off an 8-1 run. The Blue Devils got no closer than 10 the rest of the way.
Eastern Michigan advances to Saturday's second-round game with top-seeded Connecticut.
``We knew we could play with Duke,'' Boykins said. ``They don't have Grant Hill or Christian Laettner. They're not one of the top teams in the country any more.'' ILLUSTRATION: Photo
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski consoles an ailing Chris Collins, who
finished with 11 points.