CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- With the shot clock winding down and Duke (No. 10 ESPN/USA Today, No. 9 AP) struggling against a lesser opponent, Daniel Ewing leaned forward and tossed up a shot that seemingly had no chance to go in.
When the 30-footer sailed through the hoop as the clock expired, Ewing turned and smiled at coach Mike Krzyzewski.
"As Coach K says, that was just the basketball gods looking over us," Ewing said.
The Blue Devils needed plenty of help Monday night to pull off their 74-61 victory over Davidson at the Charlotte Coliseum.
Ewing scored 16 of his 19 points in the second half and sparked two big runs to help the Blue Devils (2-0) beat Davidson (1-1) for the 18th straight time.
But it didn't come easy for Duke, which nearly blew a 20-point second-half lead and struggled to put the Wildcats away.
"Phew," Krzyzewski sighed as he sat down at the podium after the game. "We beat an excellent basketball team. ... A lot of teams would have lost here tonight, believe me. They are going to be a tough out."
Maybe so, but tiny Davidson shouldn't be too tough for the mighty Blue Devils.
But it almost was, and that's an ominous sign for Duke.
For the first time in five years, the Blue Devils were not picked to win the Atlantic Coast Conference. Picked fourth in its own league, Duke is still expected to beat the little guys with ease.
But nothing was easy against Davidson, a team Duke owns an 83-17 career mark against, including last year's 88-54 blowout at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Brimming with confidence from its season-opening 84-81 win at Missouri last week, Davidson didn't quit in a game played not far from its suburban Charlotte campus.
"We came into this game not just expecting to play close but expecting to win," said Logan Kosmalski, who had a game-high 25 points and 13 rebounds.
Aided by Brendan Winters, who scored 24 points and used a trio of 3-pointers to pull the Wildcats out of a 44-24 hole, Davidson trimmed Duke's lead to four with 5:39 to play.
It was up to Ewing, who sparked the run that built Duke's big lead, to put the Blue Devils back in control. He converted a steal off Kosmalski into a fast-break dunk and, after a free throw from Shavlik Randolph, hit a 3-pointer to push Duke's lead to 61-51 with 3:29 left.
"Those five points were the tale of the game," Krzyzewski said.
Kosmalski -- who played what Krzyzewski called "a man's game" -- was nearly unstoppable. He shot 8-for-15, and nine of his 13 rebounds were on the defensive end.
"That was the finest performance a Davidson frontcourt player has had in my tenure -- 16 years," coach Bob McKillop said.
Ewing tried to break the game open in the second half by scoring nine consecutive points at the start, including his improbable 30-footer. Dribbling near the top of the key, he struggled to keep control of the ball and even lost it. Randolph recovered and fired it back to Ewing as the shot clock wound down.
Ewing tossed up the leaning shot and celebrated a 40-24 Duke lead with 16:21 to play.
The Wildcats seemed stunned, immediately turning the ball over and watching in disbelief as Randolph dunked it. Dockery added a fast-break layup to push Duke's lead to 44-24 with 15:36 to go.
But the Blue Devils couldn't hold off a charge from Davidson, which pushed the ball inside and outside to Winters to get back into the game. He made three 3s in a 22-7 run to cut Duke's lead to 55-51 with 5:39 left.
That's when Ewing took over again.
Davidson led for most of the first half, not because of what the Wildcats were doing right but because of what Duke was doing wrong.
The Blue Devils missed their first 11 3-point attempts as Davidson built a six-point lead.
But once Duke hit its first 3 -- by Dockery with 4:26 to play in the first half -- the Blue Devils got going. Redick and Dockery each made one before halftime as Duke used an 11-0 run to take a 29-22 lead into the break.