RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Duke's supposed lack of depth might not
matter much if Shelden Williams keeps playing this well.
Williams scored 18 of his 22 points in the second half to help
the fifth-ranked Blue Devils beat North Carolina State 86-74 on
Daniel Ewing added 17 points for Duke (12-0, 2-0 Atlantic Coast
Behind Williams, the Blue Devils scored on nine straight
possessions midway through the second half to charge ahead after
trailing by 10 early. Duke got strong performances from
inexperienced players Lee Melchionni and freshman DeMarcus Nelson,
who have been pressed into significant minutes because of the Blue
Devils' thin bench.
It was hardly a vintage Duke win, filled with the quick scoring
runs that carried the Blue Devils to three national championships
in 14 years. But with just eight recruited scholarship players on
the roster, it's the way they will have to grind through a tough
Not that their Hall of Fame coach seems to mind.
"I really love my team and they are so much fun," Mike
Krzyzewski said. "They're not (Christian) Laettner or (Elton)
Brand, but they make plays. I enjoy watching the evolution of this
team and I'm just so proud of what they're accomplishing."
It was a different feeling for the Wolfpack (10-5, 0-2), who
have lost four straight games for the first time since the 1999-00
season. N.C. State reached No. 12 in the nation last month, but its
once-promising season appears headed in the wrong direction.
That included another shaky outing from Julius Hodge, the
league's reigning player of the year. Hodge finished with 13 points
and five turnovers.
"I think our team is going through a tough stretch and I think
we're all frustrated," Wolfpack coach Herb Sendek said. "We
understand the answer is not to panic or flinch. We've got to come
closer together and work harder."
Duke had taken 29 of 34 meetings coming into Thursday's game,
but the Wolfpack had beaten the Blue Devils at the RBC Center in
each of the past two seasons. Last year, N.C. State's 78-74 win
knocked Duke from the No. 1 ranking.
The Blue Devils appeared on their way to a third straight road
loss to the Wolfpack. They trailed 28-18 midway through the first
half against the Wolfpack's aggressive and physical defense, which
had seven steals in the period to take a 41-38 lead at the break.
But Williams -- a rugged 6-foot-9, 250-pound junior -- took charge
right when the Blue Devils needed him most. After taking just two
shots in the first half, he went 7-for-10 from the floor after the
break and was virtually unstoppable in the paint.
He did all of that despite picking up his third foul with 19
"It was one of those things where (teammates) kept going to me
until they found an answer for me," Williams said. "And
fortunately, they didn't."
Williams also got plenty of help from Melchionni and Nelson.
Melchionni had a career-high 16 points, which included a 3-pointer
and basket during that nine-possession run. Nelson added 15 points.
Those numbers helped the Blue Devils offset an off night from
J.J. Redick, who came in averaging 21.5 points but finished with
eight points and seven rebounds.
The Blue Devils were playing without forwards Shavlik Randolph,
who has mononucleosis, and Reggie Love, who has a broken right
foot. Randolph returned to practice this week, but Love is expected
to be out several more weeks.
"When they come back, we're going to be an even deeper team,"
Melchionni said. "People want to say we're not deep. We know we
are and we know what our strengths are."
Duke tied it at 48 when Williams scored over Ilian Evtimov
inside. Williams then scored off a feed from Ewing to put the Blue
Devils ahead to stay at 50-49 with 13:28 to play.
The Blue Devils went on to score on their next seven
possessions, getting two more baskets from Williams. The run ended
when Ewing hit a 3 off a screen from Williams for a 67-59 lead with
The Wolfpack, 10-for-28 from the field in the second half, got
no closer than four points the rest of the way.
Cameron Bennerman scored 20 points to lead the Wolfpack, but
Hodge went just 3-for-10 from the floor.
"I have to play better for us to win a game like this," Hodge