Jan. 30, 2003
By DAVID DROSCHAK
AP Sports Writer
DURHAM, N.C. - There have been times this season when Shavlik Randolph's uncertainty on defense has retarded his offensive game.
The highly recruited freshman pulled it all together Thursday night, scoring a season-high 24 points on 11-for-13 shooting with 10 rebounds as No. 5 Duke beat Butler 80-60.
"He wasn't playing off of instincts early in the season. He was just out there, like he was a zombie," point guard Chris Duhon said of Randolph, who went to Duke after an intense recruiting battle with North Carolina and N.C. State. "Now, we've settled him down and he's matured and you're seeing his improvement."
Dahntay Jones also led the way with 25 points as the Blue Devils won their 23rd straight victory in Cameron Indoor Stadium.
I would hope there was respect there. I don't think we were taken lightly.
Head coach Todd Lickliter
Randolph, who also had four blocks before turning an ankle in the final seconds, had his best game since his 23-point effort in his collegiate debut against Army to open the season.
"Him finishing around the bucket got him going and it got his mind off of defense a little bit," senior center Casey Sanders said. "He's the exact opposite of me where offensively he feels comfortable and on defense he is kind of looking around. Tonight, when he played defense on the wing it was a help for him. He was the strongest big guy out there."
The Blue Devils (14-2) built on their 12-point halftime lead by making eight of their first nine shots to start the second half to cruise to the 20-point win by shooting 53 percent.
Butler (16-3), playing Duke to improve its strength of schedule come NCAA tournament selection time, couldn't stop the driving ability of Jones or the inside presence of Randolph.
"Psychologically, to play a really outstanding team in between conference games is different because each one of our conference games are out of sight this year," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "It showed how much we respected Butler by how well we were prepared and how hard we played. We're growing up because that was a really good win for us."
Jones, Duke's leading scorer at 17.1 per game, hit double figures for the 14th straight game on 8-of-12 shots and 7-of-7 from the foul line as the Blue Devils were 19-for-21 foul shooting.
Randolph, who had a combined 13 points in his last three games, didn't start, but had nine points in nine first-half minutes, then headed out with the starters for the final 20 minutes.
The 6-foot-10 freshman didn't disappoint Krzyzewski, scoring seven points in the opening 3:42 as Duke started to pull away.
Jones started the half with a four-point play, and added two other three-point plays in his 16-point half as Duke shot 64 percent over the final 20 minutes.
Darnell Archey led the Bulldogs with 14 points.
"They played at a high intensity and they made things difficult on us," said Butler coach Todd Lickliter, who is 42-9 in his second season at Butler. "I would hope there was respect there. I don't think we were taken lightly."
Butler trailed 13-10, but managed just 10 points over the final 13½ minutes of the opening half to fall behind by 12.
Jones put the Blue Devils up for good with a 3-pointer before Randolph scored nine points off the bench in a span of four minutes.
The Bulldogs had a difficult time penetrating the Duke defense, missing 22 of 30 shots in the opening 20 minutes and getting to the foul line just twice. Mike Monserez was the only Butler player to make more than one basket in the first half, going 1-for-8 after making his first two shots.