RJ Barrett scored 16 points for the Blue Devils (11-1) and the program earned its 35th win at MSG. With the Garden rocking from the tip, the Blue Devils must have felt like they had a home game.
Cam Reddish hit a late 3-pointer for a 63-57 lead that sealed the win in the first meeting between the programs. Both reached the Elite Eight last season and the atmosphere had a late-March feel.
Jarrett Culver scored 25 points for the Red Raiders (10-1) in their first loss since the NCAA Tournament.
Culver hit a 3 in a back-and-forth game for a 45-40 lead and Williamson came back down and missed Duke’s 13th straight 3-pointer. Jack White finally connected on Duke’s 15th attempt that tied the game at 45-all and brought “Let’s go Duke!” chants to a crescendo. The cheers were quickly muted by Williamson’s fourth foul (at 10:32) that forced coach Mike Krzyzewski to sit the likely one-and-done freshman.
Culver pounced and a dunk made it 53-49 and gave him 22 points, bettering his 19.1 season average.
Williamson checked in with 6:31 left and the game tied at 53 and White hit a go-ahead 3 a possession later. Williamson, 6-foot-7 and 285 pounds, was the must-see player in New York. He couldn’t stay out of foul trouble and picked up his fifth on a drive to the basket with 3:51 left and Duke up 60-55.
But the Blue Devils hung on without their star.
The Garden was lit once doors opened and ushers had to shoo away fans who lined the court during warmups to snap a picture of Williamson. Williamson missed a dunk in the layup line that earned him some heckles from the Red Raiders fans behind the basket.
Texas Tech fans were drowned out by a roaring crowd at packed MSG for Williamson’s lineup introduction. He scored the first basket of the game and capped an 8-0 run with a rim-rattling dunk off an alley-oop that made the Garden sound more like Cameron.
This was no ordinary neutral-site game with a couple thousand fans from each side mixed in with casual hoops lovers. Led by Culver, Texas Tech quickly steadied itself and “Raider! Power!” chants soon enveloped the arena.
Culver buried a 3 for a 24-17 lead and Texas Tech fans were delirious; one big, sweaty Texas Tech fan bear-hugged another during a timeout and exclaimed “Damn, this is fun!”
The half was pretty unpleasant for the Blue Devils. They missed all 10 3-point attempts and Williamson, who had 11 points and six boards in the half, was whistled for his third foul with 3:21 left.
Texas Tech: The Red Raiders could have at least built a double-digit cushion in the first half had it not been for 15 turnovers.
Duke: Williamson might need a visit to the dentist. He may have lost a tooth midway and pressed a towel against his mouth.
BUTLER DID IT
Philadelphia 76ers star Jimmy Butler sat courtside and signed autographs for fans.
Texas Tech: The Red Raiders get one more nonconference warmup against University of Texas Rio Grande Valley on Dec. 28.
Duke: The Blue Devils open ACC play on Jan. 5 against Clemson.