GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The top scoring team in the nation the last two years used defense to win its first test of the season at No. 1.
Undefeated Duke (6-0) got 23 points from Jason Williams and 21 from Mike Dunleavy to beat No. 9 Illinois 78-77 in the marquee matchup in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge on Tuesday night.
"Thank goodness 18 years ago we decided not to go zone," coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "Our man-to-man defense has been good to us over the years and it was really good for us tonight."
Williams and Dunleavy matched career highs, while Carlos Boozer of Juneau, saddled with foul trouble most of the night and held to three points in the first half, scored 12 in the second to finish with 15 points and seven rebounds.
"A lot of our kids made big plays tonight," Krzyzewski said. "It was a gutsy game."
Frank Williams led Illinois (4-2) with 19 points, but had nine of his team's 26 turnovers.
"We knew coming into this game we were going to have to protect the ball," Williams said. "Duke is a great ball club. But Cory (Bradford) and I just turned the ball over too much. We're supposed to be one of the top backcourts in the country. We've got to have more control than that."
Duke led 70-68 with 3:53 left, but Boozer hit two free throws, and Dunleavy scored on a layup and 3-pointer in a span of 30 seconds as the Blue Devils grabbed control 77-68.
But the Blue Devils had to survive a wild finish in which they turned the ball over twice in the final 1:31.
"I could have helped my team a little bit more in the last minute," Krzyzewski said. "I didn't give them good stuff on the offensive end."
The win improved Duke to 125-18 all-time as the nation's top-ranked team. But this one didn't come easy against a physical Illinois team that beat the Blue Devils on the boards 42-27.
But the Fighting Illini (4-2), playing their second No. 1 team in a span of six days, turned it over 12 times in the second half and couldn't pull out the close one down the stretch. Illinois lost to then-No. 1 Arizona 79-76 in the title game of the Maui Invitational.
"It's too early in the season to be discouraged," Illinois coach Bill Self said. "We're disappointed because these guys came in here with one thing in mind and that was to knock Duke off.
"I think both teams will be better because of this basketball game. It's great to play these type of games, but enough is enough for us."
Don't give them anything: Duke's Carlos Boozer, left, fouls Illinois' Sergio McClain, right, during the first half on Tuesday at the Greensboro Coliseum. Boozer scored 15 points and hauled in 7 rebounds as the No. 1 Blue Devils defeated the No. 9 Illini 78-77.
Neither team led by more than three points in the opening 7 1/2 minutes of the second half in a game that took on an NCAA tournament type of feel between two teams predicted to win their respective conference titles.
But the Blue Devils went on a 9-0 run as Williams scored on a drive and an 8-foot bank shot, Shane Battier hit a 3-pointer and Boozer added two free throws.
Krzyzewski got on his knees during the run, pleading with his team to put Illinois away. But Illinois made six free throws and got a 3-pointer from Sean Harrington to go on a 11-1 run of its own to regain the lead by three before Duke's late run.
"It's great to play the top teams in the country and we know we could very well play them again come March," Duke's Battier said.
Each team came in shooting better than 50 percent from the field, but both struggled in the opening 20 minutes on offense.
Illinois had trouble with Duke's press early on and ended up turning it over 14 times in the first half. During one stretch, Illinois coughed it up five times in seven possessions, but a 24-10 rebounding edge kept the score close.
Meanwhile, the Blue Devils couldn't penetrate the zone of the Fighting Illini and had trouble from the outside, hitting just 3 of 12 3-pointers while shooting 40 percent.
No. 12 Wake Forest 71,
Robert O'Kelley and the Wake Forest Demon Deacons put their experience to good use against the young Michigan Wolverines.
O'Kelley scored 11 of his 19 points in the final 11 minutes as No. 12 Wake Forest rallied to beat Michigan 71-60 on Tuesday night in an ACC/Big Ten Challenge game.
"We've got a lot of experience, and we know to stay patient and wait for things to come our way," O'Kelley said. "That experience let us hang in there without panicking."
Michigan, with three freshmen and a sophomore in its starting lineup, had an 11-point lead with 16 minutes remaining.
"I think we might have gotten too excited when we got the lead," center Josh Asselin said. "We haven't played on national TV before, and here we were beating the 12th-ranked team in the country. I think we got excited and hurt ourselves."
Michigan (2-2) outrebounded Wake Forest (5-0) 49-33 and only had 13 turnovers, but was 7-of-12 from the line in the second half.
No. 16 Connecticut 88,
Caron Butler has 21 points for Connecticut in his second game following a three-game suspension for an NCAA violation.
The freshman also had 12 rebounds, three steals and five assists, and Edmund Saunders added a career-high 20 points for the Huskies (4-1). Earl Hunt had 26 points for Brown (1-3), which scored 52 points in the second half.
No. 18 Utah 93,
Cardinal Stritch 47
Kevin Bradley and Jeff Johnsen each had 20 points as Utah won without coach Rick Majerus.
Majerus will miss about five weeks to strengthen a surgically repaired knee. He traveled Monday to Las Vegas to begin a two-week rehabilitation program.
Assistant coach Dick Hunsaker directed the Utes (4-1) against Cardinal Stritch (5-3), an NAIA school from Milwaukee.
No. 20 Syracuse 73,
Preston Shumpert and DeShaun Williams each scored 21 points as Syracuse (5-0) beat Colgate for the 35th straight time. Martin Marek had a career-high 17 points for Colgate (1-3).
No. 25 Arkansas 88,
Joe Johnson scored 19 points and Arkansas made 15 3-pointers against visiting Centenary. Brandon Dean added 15 points for the Razorbacks (4-1). Ronnie McCollum led Centenary (2-2) with 19.