DURHAM, N.C. -- Last week, as he started thinking about the prospect of having his Duke basketball jersey retired, Grant Hill had a frightening thought.
"He asked me, 'What if they retire my jersey and we lose?' " Calvin Hill recalled yesterday of a conversation he had with his now-famous son.
The younger Hill made certain that did not happen. After eighth-ranked Temple took an early shot at the No. 2 Blue Devils, after teammate Erik Meek took an inadvertent shot at Hill, the senior forward simply retired the Owls.
First Hill took over the defense. Then he took over the boards. And, finally, as Temple was making a last-gasp attempt to make it a game, Hill took over the offense, making several key plays to lead Duke to a 59-47 victory at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
"We have a fairly good offensive team when players aren't afraid to step up and take shots," said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski. "But it all starts with Grant having the ball in his hands."
Hill finished with 13 points, but eight rebounds, eight assists and two blocked shots also went pretty far in carrying the 21-3 Blue Devils to the school's 88th straight home victory against nonconference opponents. All this despite getting momentarily floored -- and bloodied on his right cheekbone -- by Meek's elbow in the first half.
In a two-minute stretch that began with 3:41 remaining in the game and Duke hanging onto a 50-45 lead, Hill found junior center Cherokee Parks for a dunk, blocked a drive by Temple guard Rich Brunson, hit
Parks again for a layup with a couple of seconds left on the 45-second clock, rebounded a miss by Owls forward Eddie Jones, then made both ends of a one-and-one to increase his team's lead to 56-45.
"I was just trying to do what I could to pitch in, whether it was helping on defense, or rebounding, or finding guys who were open," said Hill. "We felt one of the ways to stop them was not to let them take over the defensive boards."
Though the Owls dominated the offensive boards (19 to three) and took 27 more shots than the Blue Devils, they also made one fewer field goal. The heart of Temple's offense -- Jones, Brunson and senior guard Aaron McKie -- combined for 12 of 50, including one of 18 on threes.
It was the largest margin of defeat this year for Temple, which started the season by ending Kansas' 41-
game home winning streak and recently beat Louisville in Orlando, Fla., during a stretch that ended yesterday with four games in 11 days against teams ranked 11th or higher.
"You'd have to attribute everything as far as our bad shooting is concerned to a great game plan," said John Chaney, whose 20-6 Owls have off until the Atlantic 10 tournament begins March 5 in Philadelphia. "It's not a secret to anyone that we have problems with our back line. I think Duke did a great job scouting us, knowing very well that you have to stop Aaron McKie, Eddie Jones and Rich Brunson."
The victory left the Blue Devils in a positive mind-set going into a rigorous final week of the regular season, which includes a trip to Maryland Wednesday and a Saturday night rematch with North Carolina. The Tar Heels beat Duke decisively last month over in Chapel Hill.
And the pre-game ceremony left Hill with some happy memories.
"It's definitely a great feeling," he said. "It's something that you dream about. When you're being recruited, you see all the banners. I was happy when it happened to Christian [Laettner] and Bobby [Hurley]. I'm happy that it happened to me. But I'm more happy that the team won."
Considering what he asked his father, maybe even a little relieved, too.