Elite Eight showdown should pack a wallop
When top-seeded Duke and third-seeded Baylor tip off Sunday at Reliant Stadium, two determined and self-assured ballclubs will play harder than they ever thought they could. Indianapolis is on the clock.
"You know, 40 minutes," Baylor's star forward Ekpe Udoh said. "We've just got to go at it. It's going to be a physical, tough, ugly game. So we've just got to come prepared and get ready for battle."
The Baylor crowd will be proud and loud and out in force. Baylor coach Scott Drew has sent the call for every last person with a Baylor heartstring to get to the game. Friday afternoon on ESPN radio the 39-year-old head coach said he hopes a regional-round record crowd of 50,000 shows up.
The Blue Devils, having heard the muted roar of the partisan crowd from their locker room, said they won't get rattled.
"We have no problem being those guys coming in and trying to take something away," Duke forward Lance Thomas said. They have everything behind them, but us sticking together is going to be key in this game. Not one person is going to be able to do it by themselves. So us sticking together and just playing like there's no tomorrow in a hostile environment. I mean, we have nothing to lose, we're going to go for it."
Yes, that was a touch of underdog re-positioning of the South Region favorite. The Dukies know they'll have to their blood pumping the start. They saw how the crowd juiced the Bears, leading to a devastating blitz of Saint Mary's. Duke will prepare to withstand Baylor's initial adrenaline rush, then try to gain some control and settle things down into a half-court boilermaker.
"Like Coach said in his opening statement, this is one of the most athletic teams we're going to play against," said Thomas, repeating coach Mike Krzyzewski's assessment. "So we're going to have to play to our strengths. Rebounding is going to be a big key to the game. We can't jump with them. We're going to have to put bodies on them and let them know it's going to be a game for 40 minutes."
The Bears say they are prepared.
"Nothing changes for us," Udoh said. "Just stick to our game plan, come out aggressive and try to get the victory."
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