``I don't know of any tournament where you have St. John's in the first round, North Carolina in the second round, then N.C. State at State in the third round,'' Brand said following No. 2 Duke's 80-61 win over the Wolfpack on Saturday. ``This is tougher than any tournament I've ever been through.''
William Avery and Brand provided the offensive punch in the second half for the weary Blue Devils (21-1, 9-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), who were playing for the third time in six days. Duke shot 57 percent from the field en route to their 16th straight win.
``They are a great basketball team,'' said N.C. State coach Herb Sendek. ``I know sometimes that word is tossed around lightly, but I say that with great sincerity.''
Duke's ninth straight double-digit ACC win sets up a showdown Wednesday in Cameron Indoor Stadium against No. 4 Maryland.
The Blue Devils so far have passed Krzyzewski's rigorous test with flying colors.
``I thought this week really simulated for us what a tough week in the NCAA tournament would be,'' said Krzyzewski. ``We look at things like that, that's why the St. John's game was scheduled instead of taking last weekend off.''
N.C. State (13-8, 3-6) lost to Duke for the 17th time in the last 20 meetings.
Avery, held to two points in the first half, had nine in the second half, including two bank shots and a baseline jumper after the Wolfpack had closed to 61-55 with 8:40 left.
``It was one of those games where everybody scored in the first half, except who? Except William Avery,'' said Chris Carrawell, one of five Duke starters in double figures. ``Hey, he is eventually going to go off and get his points.
``That's the type of team we have. We have a lot of players who can go off at any time. I don't want to brag or anything but we have a lot of talented guys who can take over a game.''
Avery's three baskets came within a span of 1:25 and seemed to demoralize the Wolfpack.
``I kind of wanted to attack my man because he was relaxing,'' Avery said of Wolfpack point guard Justin Gainey. ``I had been picking him up full court so I knew he was fatigued.''
Brand, who scored 15 points, made a layup and follow shot as Duke ended the game with a 19-6 run.
The Blue Devils built their nine-point halftime lead to 15 in the first 3-1/2 minutes of the second half, getting a layup and follow shot from Brand, a follow shot by Shane Battier and a baseline jumper by Chris Carrawell.
But the Wolfpack rallied behind Kenny Inge, who scored 22 points, to close within six points before Duke's final surge.
Duke built a 10-point lead midway through the opening half before the Wolfpack rallied with a 10-1 run as Gainey hit two free throws and made a scoop layup in traffic.
But N.C. State failed twice to take the lead in the next minute. Gainey got his shot blocked in the lane and was whistled for a 10-second call when he didn't get the ball over halfcourt, walking it up while taking a play from Sendek.
``That was probably my fault because we had a sub at the table for Justin,'' Sendek said of the 10-second call that halted the Wolfpack rally. ``We try to play him as many minutes as we possibly can, and I should have gotten him out sooner. He was in the game and hit a wall. I have to take full responsibility for that.''
Adam Harrington, who had 26 points against Duke in the first meeting in Durham, was saddled with early foul trouble and missed the final 7:04 of the first half after picking up his third foul.
Duke outscored the Wolfpack 9-1 to close the half as Trajan Langdon sank a long 3-pointer, Battier and Nate James had layups and Brand sank a pair of free throws.
Harrington lasted less than two minutes into the second half before picking up his fourth foul and finished with seven points.
By DAVID DROSCHAK,AP Sports WriterCopyright ©1999 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or distributed.Contents
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