The Duke forward stood his ground and sent Rice to the floor
without drawing a foul, preserving the second-ranked Blue Devils'
83-81 victory over Boston College (No. 14 ESPN/USA Today; No. 15 AP) on Wednesday night.
"We're spoiled by his defense," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski
said. "He doesn't leap tall buildings with a single bound, but he
got seven blocks tonight. That was a terrific play, as were his
Williams had 21 points -- including 13-of-16 from the line -- and
J.J. Redick scored 28 with some key free throws to help the Blue
Devils weather a late BC rally. Josh McRoberts scored 14 and Sean
Dockery had 12 as Duke (20-1, 8-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) won
its third straight since its only loss, at Georgetown on Jan. 21.
Jared Dudley had a season-high 28 points for Boston College,
which had won four straight games in the ACC since opening its
first season in the conference 0-3. The Eagles (16-5, 4-4) fell to
0-4 this year against ranked opponents.
Duke led by as many as 18 early in the second half before BC
whittled the lead to six. The Eagles made it a one-possession game
in the final seconds without star Craig Smith, who fouled out with
three minutes left.
Duke led 79-76 with 24 seconds left when Lee Melchionni threw an
inbounds pass between two Blue Devil teammates, where Marquez
Haynes could grab it. Dudley hit a layup to make it a one-point
game, and BC sent Redick back to the line.
Redick, a 92.1 percent foul shooter coming into the game, sank
both shots and Rice brought the ball coast-to-coast.
But when he got to the basket, he found Williams.
"In previous years, the Duke teams I've been on lost this
game," Redick said. "We didn't have the guys that could step up.
This team does."
BC does, too -- but two of them were on the bench, having fouled
Smith finished with eight points and eight rebounds, going
scoreless in the second half before picking up his fifth foul with
2:58 left and joining Sean Marshall on the bench. It's the second
consecutive game the preseason All-America selection -- the first in
school history -- has been held under double-digit scoring.
"There wasn't much I could do but sit there and be a
cheerleader," Smith said. "That team was picked to be the
national champions and you lose to them by two points. That says
The move to the ACC was supposed to raise the profile of college
basketball in Boston, where the appetite for the pros relegates
college sports to quaint little diversions like the Beanpot hockey
tournament and the Head of the Charles regatta.
But even as it rose to No. 6 in The Associated Press Top 25, BC
still had trouble drawing attention away from the New England
Patriots' playoff run and the Red Sox front office mayhem.
On Wednesday night, it was the pros' turn to watch.
At the game from the Patriots: owner Bob Kraft, coach Bill
Belichick and quarterback Doug Flutie. From the Red Sox: president
Larry Lucchino and other members of the front office. From golf:
Brad Faxon and executives from the Deutsche Bank Championship. From
television, NBC correspondent Tim Russert.
The star-studded crowd -- in a sea of free yellow T-shirts that
tried to make the Conte Forum more like Duke's Cameron Indoor
Stadium -- saw BC take an early advantage and nurse it through seven
lead changes in the first 13 minutes.
Trailing 25-21, Duke scored 16 of the next 21 points to take the
lead for good. The Blue Devils finished the first half up 44-34,
with nine of their 12 points with the fast break, layups or dunks.
They made it a 12-point game on Williams' two free throws to
start the second before Dudley made two straight baskets to bring
BC within eight.
Then the Blue Devils showed they can be devastating from the
outside as well.
Redick hit a 3-pointer. Dockery hit a 3-pointer. Redick hit
another 3, and over a 57-second span Duke had turned an eight-point
lead to a 17-point game, 55-38, with 17:34 left to play.
Duke led 61-43 with 12:47 left when BC went on a 14-2 run to
make it a six-point game. But McLain missed a pair of free throws
with a chance to cut it to four.
Rice hit a 3-pointer from the right side -- his first basket of
the game -- to make it 71-67 with 3:19 left. But Smith drew his
fifth foul on the next possession.
Greg Paulus made one of two free throws, then McLain scored on a
foul-line jumper to make it a three-point game. BC was fouling on
every trip down and Redick missed one of two. He finished 9-for-10
from the line for the game.
But with a chance to come as close as one point, Williams stole
an entry pass and Redick made a pair of free throws.