Williams, Ewing shut down Wolfpack
By Neil Fuller
Published in Sports on January 14, 2005 1:56 PM
RALEIGH -- By all preseason accounts, this was supposed to be N.C. State's time to make a degree of headway against the rest of the Big Four.
Duke obviously didn't get the memo.
Shelden Williams scored a game-high 22 points, and Daniel Ewing shut down returning ACC player of the year Julius Hodge as the No. 5 Blue Devils remained unbeaten with an 86-74 win over the Wolfpack on Thursday night at the RBC Center.
Duke (12-0, 2-0 ACC) has now won 17 of the past 19 meetings in the series.
"I really love my team," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "They are so much fun. They may not be (Christian) Laettner or (Elton) Brand, but they make plays. I enjoy watching the evolution of this team. I'm just so proud of what they're accomplishing."
The Blue Devils limited Hodge to one field goal in the first half, and N.C. State (10-5, 0-2) shot a meager 35.7 percent (10 of 28) from the floor during the final 20 minutes.
Hodge finished with 13 points on 3 of 10 shooting.
"My first priority was to defend Julius in order for my team to get out of here with a win," said Ewing, who added 17 points and four assists on the offensive end before fouling out. "I was trying to stop him as best I could, and I did that pretty much throughout the first half."
Duke, playing without forwards Shavlik Randolph (mononucleosis) and Reggie Love (broken right foot), got a career-high 16 points from 6-foot-6, 205-pound junior Lee Melchionni to bail out its depleted roster.
"People want to claim that we're not deep," Melchionni said. "We know we are, and we know what our strengths are."
N.C. State has now lost four straight for the first time since the 1999-00 season.
"I have to play better in order for us to win a game like this," Hodge said.
Even with Hodge, who entered the game averaging just 11.5 points in eight previous career matchups with Duke, struggling to get off a shot, the Wolfpack appeared ready to pull the upset.
Engin Atsur's 3-pointer with 7:06 left in the first half gave N.C. State a 10-point lead. The Wolfpack -- behind seven team steals and 12 points from Cameron Bennerman -- led 41-38 at halftime.
A more-focused Duke emerged following the break, however.
The Blue Devils committed just three second-half turnovers, and a layup by Williams gave Duke the lead for good at 50-49 with 12:49 remaining.
N.C. State found itself buried as the Blue Devils scored on their next seven possessions -- including two more baskets by Williams.
Wolfpack coach Herb Sendek understood the missed opportunity.
"We had our chances in the first half to leave the court with more than a three-point lead," Sendek said. "We didn't do that, and we knew this was going to be a 40-minute game."
Bennerman finished with 20 points to lead N.C. State.
"State came out ready to play in the first half, but we just showed more poise in the second half," Krzyzewski said. "But credit State's defense. There was a lot of energy in this building."
Notes: The Duke victory will serve as the lone regular-season meeting between these two longtime rivals due to ACC expansion. ... Duke's J.J. Redick was 0-for-4 from 3-point range, but collected a game-high seven rebounds. ... DeMarcus Nelson had 15 points for Duke. ... 19,722 fans were in attendance.
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