6:00 PM ET, December 21, 2005
Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham, North Carolina
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) -- The way Mike Krzyzewski sees it, J.J. Redick simply has too much on his mind to fully concentrate on free throws.
And that's OK with Coach K.
"It's so important to him for us to do well, I think he doesn't have full focus on the free throw," the Duke coach said. "He's thinking like a leader. I'd rather have him shoot less from the line -- because he's never going to be bad -- and be the leader."
It showed Wednesday night.
Redick finished with 18 points despite missing two free throws, and the top-ranked Blue Devils broke away from a close game shortly before halftime to beat St. John's 70-57 in their final game before Christmas.
Freshman Josh McRoberts tied a season high with 12 points, Sean Dockery also had 12 and Shelden Williams added 11 points, 10 rebounds and seven blocks for Duke (11-0). Redick averaged 31.6 points in the previous three games, but a similar effort wasn't needed in this one.
"It's almost like we were waiting for a play to be called every time," Krzyzewski said. "That led to playing at a slower pace. Certainly, Shelden and J.J. have had better games, but I thought they did fine. They can do better and they have."
St. John's (5-4) is the fifth-winningest program in college basketball history, but these are hard times for the school from New York, which finished 9-18 a year ago. Last weekend, the Red Storm lost for the first time to Marist, and they also have a home loss earlier this season to Hofstra.
"We did a good job of staying with them in the first half," coach Norm Roberts said. "In the second half, we had too many turnovers that led to too many baskets that they didn't earn. As long as we compete like that, we'll be all right."
Aaron Spears led the Red Storm with 14 points, 12 in the first half, and Anthony Mason Jr. had eight with his father, the former NBA player, sitting just behind the bench. Second-leading scorer Lamont Hamilton didn't score until early in the second half and finished with seven points, about half his average.
"Nothing changed," Spears said. "I just don't think we played at the same intensity level in the second half."
They were competitive with the Blue Devils for most of the first half, leading twice and forging three ties before Duke's superior talent took over. It started with Redick.
The senior guard has been uncommonly off at the free throw line this season -- sure, 87 percent still ranks among the Division I leaders, but it's well behind his career mark of 94 percent, the best ever. He continued that trend late in the first half with the score tied at 26, when he was fouled by Cedric Jackson on a 3-pointer.
Two of Redick's three shots clanged off the rim, leaving him 10-for-14 over the past two games. He can't remember missing two in a row like that at any other point during his Duke career.
"It'd been a physical game, a physical year, and I just missed that first one, and I was ticked off at myself," Redick said. "So I kind of rushed the second one. It's mental, it's all mental."
Yet these misses appeared to energize him. After a turnover by St. John's, he finished off a nice assist from Paulus with a layup, then swished a 3 to give Duke a 32-26 lead. That forced a timeout from Roberts and allowed the Cameron Crazies to serenade Redick with their patented cheer, "J.J. Redick, Dyno-mite!"
A 26-7 run spanning halftime helped the Blue Devils pull away, with McRoberts figuring prominently. Held to two points in only 9 minutes in the first half, he started the second half on the bench.
"I understood it, I haven't been playing well, and I didn't play well in the first half," McRoberts said. "Obviously, I was a little bit disappointed, but I totally understood."
When he finally got on the court, he quickly made his presence felt. McRoberts took a lob pass from Paulus for a dunk off an inbounds play, then later added four more baskets in a span of about 3½ minutes to finish off St. John's.
Three were dunks, including another alley-oop and one on a breakaway after he jumped in the passing lane for a steal. McRoberts ended his personal spurt with a floater from the lane to make it 60-37, and Duke wasn't threatened again.
"He got going then, but that can't be how you start playing," Krzyzewski said. "We're not always going to draw plays for him to get dunks."
Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||24-59 (.407)||26-54 (.481)|
|3P Made-Attempted||1-6 (.167)||4-14 (.286)|
|FT Made-Attempted||8-15 (.533)||14-20 (.700)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||17 (0/0)||16 (0/0)|
|» Dec 21, 2005||@DUKE 70, SJU 57||Recap|