Kansas City, Mo. Marquette University's Dominic James may stand 5-foot-11, but his quickness and ability to take a pounding reminded Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski of his former All-American Jay Williams.
"That kid James is really a good player," Krzyzewski said. "He's strong and has a good will."
Those skills helped Marquette knock off No. 9-ranked Duke, 73-62, in the championship game of the College Basketball Experience Classic on Tuesday night at Municipal Auditorium.
No. 13-ranked Marquette (6-0) started a fleet, three-guard lineup. Jerel McNeal contributed 17 points and six steals, and Wesley Matthews added eight points. That threesome helped Marquette score 25 points off Duke turnovers.
"The three of them complement together so well," Marquette coach Tom Crean said. "I wouldn't trade these guys for anybody."
James, the MVP of the CBE Classic, led all scorers with 25 points, including the last bucket of the first half to give Marquette a 34-32 lead. His reverse dunk with 9:29 left capped an 11-2 run, and his three-point shot gave Marquette a 64-58 lead with 4:26 left. On the next Marquette series, he converted a three-point play.
The sophomore repeatedly went into the heart of Duke's man-to-man defense.
"We knew they like to pressure," James said. "That allows us to penetrate."
Defensively, James helped force Duke point guard Greg Paulus into six turnovers. The Blue Devils sophomore fouled out with 1:34 left, and several of those fouls occurred while trying to keep up with speedy Marquette guards. Krzyzewski said Paulus still is gaining his groove after missing a month with a broken foot.
"He's not where he's going to be," he said. "In any sport there is a transition period."
With 2:04 left, James became tangled up with Duke guard DeMarcus Nelson and injured his ankle. He returned with 50.8 seconds.
"I'm fine," James said. "Getting a victory takes away all the pain."
Nelson, the Blue Devils' only upperclassman, sparked Duke early. One night after scoring a career-high 23 points, Nelson scored 11 in the game's first 10 minutes, including three three-point shots and an alley-oop dunk off a pass from Josh McRoberts. But he had only two points afterward.
The evenly matched game featured eight ties and six lead changes.
Duke forward Josh McRoberts led the Blue Devils with 15 points. He displayed his athleticism with darting drives and two alley-oop finishes, including one for a reverse dunk, and he also dribbled the ball down court on several occasions.
He, however, committed consecutive traveling violations and missed several shot around the basket, which limited him to 4-of-16 shooting.
"He was in a position to have a great game," Krzyzewski said. "Sometimes you've got to look bad before you look good."
In the consolation game of the CBE Classic, Air Force (5-1) defeated Texas Tech (4-2), 67-53.
"We got beat by a team that was a very tough-minded, smart team," Texas Tech coach Bob Knight said.
Battling gout, the legendary coach sat on the bench for most of the game because walking has become difficult.
The game was tied at 33 at halftime, but Air Force hit consecutive threes to gain second-half momentum. Air Force shot 10-for-23 from three-point range, and that aspect of its methodical, Princeton-style offense proved to be the difference.
"You're going to give up something," Knight said. "They shoot the ball well from the three-point line, and they do a great job cutting to the bucket."