November 26, 2005

(1) Duke 70, (11) Memphis 67

NEW YORK -- Their names go together like so many college basketball duos. It's rare to hear J.J. Redick of Duke without Shelden Williams following right behind.

For the second half of the championship game of the NIT Season Tip-Off on Friday night, Williams was a solo star and it meant a title for the top-ranked Blue Devils and an MVP trophy for the senior center.

Williams matched his career high with 30 points, including the game-winning tip-in with 32 seconds left, to give Duke a 70-67 victory over No. 11 Memphis.

At halftime, when Duke held a 42-41 lead, Redick had 15 points, one more than Williams. Redick, a returning All-America, didn't score in the second half. Williams did.

"We're a team, me and him," Williams said of the senior guard. "We take the weight and onus on our backs every game. If he's not doing something I'll take it up for him and I know he'll be there whenever I need him."

The Blue Devils (5-0) didn't wrap up their third title in the tournament at Madison Square Garden on Williams' eighth rebound of the game when he tipped in a missed drive by Sean Dockery.

Duke's Lee Melchionni was fouled after grabbing the rebound of a miss by Memphis' Darius Washington Jr., but he missed two free throws with 11 seconds left. Dockery got the rebound of the second miss, but he didn't make the first of his two free throws. He made the second for a 70-67 lead and then Memphis freshman Shawne Williams hit the rim with a 3-point attempt at the buzzer and Duke had the title to go with the ones in 1985 and 2000.

"I want this team to win so bad I'll do anything for this team," the 6-foot-2 guard said of getting the rebound.

Those offensive rebounds were the kind of plays Memphis coach John Calipari said were the difference.

"The two plays that cost us the game, they weren't anything with skill or anything else," Calipari said. "They missed a layup and they offensive rebounded, simply effort. They missed two free throws and they offensive rebound. That was the ballgame."

Freshman Josh McRoberts added 12 points for Duke, which got all its points from its starters. The Blue Devils were without starting guard DeMarcus Nelson, who is out indefinitely after suffering a hairline fracture of his right ankle in the 78-68 semifinal win over Drexel.

"Together, Shelden and J.J. still scored 45 points. If they do that every night, we'll be good," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "We just have to figure out other people to score with them. That's where we miss DeMarcus because he was capable of scoring of driving, rebounding, shooting. When DeMarcus comes back we have a chance to be better."

Williams had 15 points for the Tigers (3-1), while Rodney Carney added 12 and Washington had 11. Memphis advanced to the final with an 88-80 win over No. 16 UCLA in the semifinals.

"We have guys who just haven't played together," Calipari said of his two sophomores and five freshmen in the eight-man rotation. "We're just trying to figure it out. Offensively, we're taking so many bad shots right now it's almost making me want to vomit at times, but we are being aggressive."

Greg Paulus made two free throws with 5:02 remaining to give Duke a 64-57 lead. Memphis then went on a 6-0 run capped by a layup by Washington with 3:11 to go.

Dockery hit a 3 from the corner to make it 67-63 and Williams tied it himself with a drive to the basket with 1:07 to play and two free throws 10 seconds later.

Williams tipped in a drive by Dockery to give Duke the lead for good but that and Dockery's 3 were the Blue Devils' only field goals over the final 5:17.

Dockery said Krzyzewski has been on him to keep shooting.

"That gives you confidence when Coach keeps on me like that to keep shooting," he said. "I was open for that 3 and my guy was playing off me. I felt it and made it."

Williams' other 30-point game came against Miami last season.

"Shelden is a really good offensive player," Krzyzewski said. "He showed a lot of poise tonight."

This was Duke's fifth appearance in the tournament and the two times it didn't win it, it lost in the title game.

"We're a young team, too," said Krzyzewski, who starts two freshmen. "As we bring them along, you only get better. That's why these tournaments are great in the early season. Not preseason; this is the season."

Memphis dropped to 0-7 all-time against teams ranked No. 1, but it was the first time Calipari lost to a top-ranked team. He was 3-0 against No. 1 teams during his tenure at Massachusetts.

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