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MONDAY, MARCH 21, 2005
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Mississippi State sent home
Duke coach sets milestone in victory

By Jenna Fryer
Associated Press Writer

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The celebration was muted, emotions kept in check. Never mind that Mike Krzyzewski had just passed Dean Smith for the most wins in NCAA tournament history with a victory that moved Duke into the round of 16.

The tears will come only when this unlikely team plays its final game.

The top-seeded Blue Devils assured themselves of at least one more game with a 63-55 victory over Mississippi State in the second round of the Austin Regional on Sunday.

"Coaches don't win games, players do," Krzyzewski said. "Look, I love this group of kids, it's as good a group as I've ever coached . . . and whenever they have played their last game, that is when I will truly be emotional."

Daniel Ewing handled the offense and Shelden Williams took care of defense to get Coach K his record 66th tournament victory, moving him ahead of Smith at the top of the list. It took a reminder from J.J. Redick for the Blue Devils (27-5) to get the milestone win.

"It means a lot to me and to us as a team," Redick said. "You know, he wouldn't talk about it, but I made sure all the guys on this team knew about it. I mentioned it to the team before we went out on the court. I said 'We need to win it for him.' "

The victory sent Duke into the regional semifinals for the eighth consecutive year, the longest current streak in the nation. The Blue Devils will play fifth-seeded Michigan State.

But it wasn't an easy trip.

Duke was embarrassed after squeaking out a 57-46 win over 16th-seeded Delaware State in the first round, and the Blue Devils had their hands full with ninth-seeded Mississippi State (23-11).

"This was a very tough game, especially for the second round," said Williams, who had 13 points and 15 rebounds. "This was the kind of game you see in the Elite Eight, or maybe even the Final Four."

Duke shot just 38 percent, had 16 turnovers and almost lost what should have been a pro-Duke crowd when the game was tied at 50 with under 5 minutes to play. Because rival North Carolina played in the first game, and Tar Heels fans snapped up almost 18,000 tickets in the Charlotte Coliseum, the crowd shifted to the Bulldogs late.

The Blue Devils said they never even noticed.

"I thought it would be like playing in (North Carolina's) Smith Center," Krzyzewski said. "But it wasn't even close."

Because if the crowd did shift to Mississippi State's side, Williams and Ewing silenced it down the stretch while helping the Blue Devils to their 16th consecutive win in this building.

Williams scored on a three-point play to give Duke the lead for good at 53-50 with 4:19 to go, then blocked Lawrence Roberts' shot at the other end. Redick scored on a fadeaway, and after a Mississippi State miss, Ewing pushed in a Redick miss to make it 57-53.

"It seems like every big play that had to be made down the stretch, they made," said Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury. "That's why they are so successful."

Roberts dunked for the Bulldogs, but Ewing came up big again with a short runner in the lane for a 59-55 lead with 1:01 to play.

Mississippi State knew it was over then.

"Ewing is the guy down the stretch that really hurt us," Stansbury said.

Ewing finished with 22 points — and after hitting his fourth 3-pointer of the game, taunted the Bulldogs by saying "You can't guard me" to guard Shane Power.

Redick had 16 and Williams ended with 13 points and 15 rebounds.

Roberts led the Bulldogs with 17 points and 11 rebounds, but struggled offensively on 5-of-18 shooting. Ontario Harper also scored 17.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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