March 21, 2001
REGIONAL: East, Regional Semifinals.
TIME: Thursday, 10 p.m. EST.
SITE: The First Union Center, Philadelphia.
The Duke Blue Devils cruised through the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament, and now will have center Carlos Boozer back as they face UCLA in the East Regional Semifinals on Thursday.
After missing six games with a broken right foot Boozer returned to practice Monday and is expected to play when the Blue Devils take on the 4th-seeded Bruins. Naturally, Boozer's teammates are excited to have his low-post scoring and defense back in time to face the Bruins.
"I don't think you can find too many teams in the last two weeks of the season can add a talent like Carlos," Shane Battier said. "We're all excited to see how he's going to fit in with this team."
Top-seeded Duke is 6-0 since Boozer went out in the second half against Maryland on Feb. 27. He was averaging 14 points and 6.5 rebounds before getting hurt.
With Battier and point guard Jason Williams playing well, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is not concerned about Boozer fitting back into the team's offense.
"Our dominant players are Shane and Jason and Carlos will come in and rebound and play defense and give us low-post scoring, but not to where we're going to change what we've been doing the last three weeks. We've been playing high-level basketball," said Krzyzewski.
Battier had 27 points and 11 rebounds and Williams, nursing a sore left ankle, had 31 points and nine assists as the Blue Devils beat Missouri 94-81 on Saturday in the second round of the NCAA East Regional.
"We know when we step on the court we're two of the tougher matchups in college basketball," Battier said. "On any given night we're both capable of carrying this team."
UCLA will have to tighten up its defense if it hopes to contain Duke's two All-Americas. The Bruins are giving up just under 75 points a game this season.
The Bruins advanced to the Regional Semifinals for the third time in four years as Jason Kapono scored 19 points to lead UCLA to a 75-50 victory over Utah State on Saturday in the second round.
Center Dan Gadzuric dominated the post with 16 points and 14 rebounds against Utah State, but will have a tougher time with Boozer. The 6-foot-11 Gadzuric is averaging 11.6 points and 8.4 rebounds a game this season.
UCLA is 6-8 versus Duke all-time after getting drubbed 120-84 in their last meeting in 1997-98.
PROBABLE STARTERS: UCLA - F Matt Barnes (11.8 ppg, 7.1 rpg), F Kapono (17.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg), C Gadzuric (11.6 ppg, 8.4 rpg), G Earl Watson (14.6 ppg, 5.3 apg), G Knight (7.8 ppg, 0.5 apg). Duke - F Battier (19.5 ppg, 6.9 rpg), F Nate James (13.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg), F Mike Dunleavy (12.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg), G Williams (20.9 ppg, 6.2 apg), G Chris Duhon (7.0 ppg, 4.5 apg).
HOW THEY GOT HERE: UCLA - At-large bid, Pac-10 Conference, defeated No. 13 Hofstra 61-48, first round, defeated No. 12 Utah State 75-50, second round. Duke - Automatic bid, ACC tournament champion, defeated No. 16 Monmouth 95-52, first round, defeated No. 9 Missouri 94-81, second round.
ALL-TIME TOURNAMENT RECORD: UCLA - 83-29, 37 years. Duke - 69-22, 24 years.