Unbelievable talent plus relentless hustle is setting Duke apart from the rest of the NCAA Tournament field.
Equipped with the nation's most intimidating offense, Duke reminded Tulsa it hasn't been neglecting its defense, routing the Golden Hurricane 97-56 Sunday in the second round of the East Regional.
It was Duke's second consecutive 41-point victory in the NCAAs.
When asked for an opening comment in the postgame interview, Tulsa coach Bill Self was left with a one-word reaction: "Wow!"
"In the first half, I bet you on the 20 hustle plays they probably won 15 of them," said Self. "It wasn't that our guys weren't trying, but they are big, they are long, they are athletic. They are like a bunch of sharks: When they smell blood, they definitely swarm to you."
The top-seeded Blue Devils (34-1), seemingly contesting every dribble, pass and shot, limited the Golden Hurricane to 28 percent first-half shooting and -- once again for Duke and its opponent, the game was over by intermission.
"They looked at us and said, 'Yeah, we can play with them,'" said Duke's Chris Carrawell. "Then, when we got on the court they probably said, 'Damn, we're down by 30 already.' That's us staying focused. That's us sending a message."
Carrawell said he could tell by the eyes of the Tulsa players it was over in the opening 10 minutes.
"It's like they lost their bike or something when they were a kid," Carrawell said. "It's kind of like a defeated look already. They were bending over, huffing and puffing, and we were clapping and saying, 'Let's go, let's go.'"
Duke won its 29th consecutive ame to advance to the round of 16 for the 10th time under coach Mike Krzyzewski. The team's 34th victory also tied the 1992 national title team for second most in school history as William Avery had 19 points, Elton Brand 17 and Shane Battier 14.
Greg Harrington led Tulsa -- which turned the ball over 20 times -- with 15 points.
Krzyzewski said he wanted to pick up the pace with the return of 3-point ace Trajan Langdon, who missed the last three games with a foot injury. As usual, Duke followed his orders.
Duke beat 16th-seeded Florida A&M by 41 in its tournament opener Friday and had beaten its past 10 opponents by an average of 31 points. Tulsa (23-10), the ninth seed, found out rather quickly it would become the latest victim.
| Getting physical: Tulsa's Michael Ruffin tangles with Duke's Elton Brand. (AP)|
Duke led 9-8 heading into the first television timeout but emerged with a 13-0 run after Krzyzewski challenged his crew. Battier, Duke's defensive ace, sank a pair of 3-pointers and added a tip-in to fuel the spurt.
Krzyzewski said he was upset because one of his players didn't dive for a loose ball.
"This isn't a seven-game series. Bad habits seep in and then, all of a sudden, you're not running your out-of-bounds play right and things like that," Krzyzewski said. "We have to be very precise in what we do."
Tulsa, attempting to make the round of 16 for the third time in the '90s, then began to show its frustration with the Duke wrecking machine.
By late in the half, Golden Hurricane big men Michael Ruffin and Brandon Kurtz had picked up three fouls each trying to stop Brand and a host of other Blue Devils from getting to the basket.
Duke's initial 13-0 run was part of a larger 30-5 run that left the Golden Hurricane down 39-13 with 6:33 left in the half.
Self called a pair of 20-second timeouts during the spurt in an attempt to break Duke's momentum, but he just prolonged the agony as Avery, Brand and Battier combined to score 34 of Duke's first 36 points.
Langdon's 3-pointer four minutes later gave Duke a 29-point lead. The senior scored 12 points in his first game back in 10 days.
Duke settled for a 53-23 halftime lead -- the 24th time this season the Blue Devils have cracked the 50-point barrier by the half.
Langdon's 18-footer with 11:52 left gave Duke a 40-point lead.
"We got back to our normal rotation and I thought it paid great dividends on the defensive end of the court," Krzyzewski said of Langdon's return. "We were able to keep fresh people in all the time."
Ruffin, Tulsa's leading scorer, was shut out, going 0-for-3 from the field in 34 minutes.
When asked if anyone in the field of 64 could beat Duke, Self smiled and said: "Maybe the (Indiana) Pacers -- maybe."
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