More than 20,000 fans were treated to something very special Tuesday night at the Meadowlands -- and it was all for a good cause, cancer research.
The Jimmy V Classic was a night I won't forget any time soon. It was flat-out awesome with a capital A, baby!
|Dickie V sees Duke's Jason Williams (right) as a slam-dunk star in the NBA.|
I know that it's December, and this Kentucky-Duke game didn't mean as much as the 1992 NCAA Tournament classic when Christian Laettner hit that amazing game-winning shot. Coaches break down a season into three parts -- the non-conference, league play and the postseason. For a non-conference game, this had the intensity, the feel, the emotion of a Final Four game.
It lived up to its hype and billing: No. 1 Duke defeated No. 8 Kentucky 95-92 (in overtime). This was a heavyweight title battle, like Ali-Frazier.
In the end, the Blue Devils got to the winner's circle for the 20th straight time, fighting off a brilliant challenge by the Wildcats.
Jason Williams showed why he is America's premier player. When the Blue Devils were down in the second half, he put them on his back, carrying them through the last 12½ minutes of regulation, scoring 21 big points in that stretch.
For the game, Williams was the homecoming hero. He didn't want to taste defeat in front of his Jersey friends and family. He scored a career-high (and Jimmy V Classic record) 38 points -- including 7-of-10 from trifecta land.
The coaches, Mike Krzyzewski and Tubby Smith, did a brilliant job on the sidelines. Smith had his team prepared and he did a great job utilizing his bench.
Coach K sent a big-time message early in the second half, pulling out his starting five and benching them for three minutes when the coach was unhappy with the way the 'Cats outhustled and outscrapped his team.
Duke actually picked up a point when the starters were on the sidelines. When Williams and company returned, they were a different team, with Kentucky getting fewer offensive rebounds and second chances.
Jason Williams showed why he is America's premier player. When the Blue Devils were down in the second half, he put them on his back.
Give the Wildcats credit. Cliff Hawkins was outstanding in overtime, handling the ball and taking big shots. Tayshaun Prince, after a slow start, showed leadership in taking key shots in the second half.
Diaper dandy Rashaad Carruth had his coming out party -- he scored more points in the first half (14) than he had in Kentucky's previous games combined (12).
It was an honor to be part of such a great basketball game, and for a great cause. Jimmy V had to be smiling down from heaven as Kentucky and Duke put on quite a show.