Center Robert Traylor had 24 points and guard Louis Bullock had 23 as the Wolverines (6-2) overcame a 17-point deficit against the Blue Devils (9-1), who had defeated their previous opponents by an average of 36 points a game.
"After all the things we've been through in the past year, this game shows that we're still Michigan and we're still here," said Traylor, who had 15 points in a second half in which Michigan outscored Duke, 46-27.
The Wolverines are coming off an underachieving 24-11 season in which they failed to qualify for the NCAA tournament, which they had made 11 of 12 previous seasons. Allegations of NCAA violations hung ominously over the program in the off-season, and Coach Steve Fisher was linked to much-scrutinized booster Ed Martin and fired a month before the start of the season. Assistant Brian Ellerbe was named interim coach two weeks later, and the season got off to a shaky start with a loss to Western Michigan.
But Michigan does have a veteran team, with four starters and defensive specialist Maceo Baston back from last season. That experience was a telling factor against freshman-laden Duke, which was outrebounded, 45-29. The 6-foot-8, 280-pound Traylor had 13 rebounds.
"He's so strong, and it's his experience," Blue Devil freshman center Elton Brand said. "I have to adjust to that."
Duke also had 14 turnovers and only eight assists. Michigan, which had been averaging 20 turnovers through its first seven games, had that many again, but Bullock scored 17 of his points--including four of four three-point shooting--to make the difference in a sloppy second half.
"Our team is a really good basketball team, but we didn't play like it in the second half," Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "We didn't play well in transition and Michigan capitalized on that. It seemed like butter was on the ball for us, and that had a lot to do with the game pressure."
A sidelight to the game was Fisher making his first appearance at Crisler Arena since being fired Oct. 11. Fisher was sitting five rows in front of Tom Goss, the new athletic director who fired him.
It also was a homecoming of sorts for Mike Chappell and Shane Battier, two Duke starters who played their high school basketball less than 45 minutes from Crisler Arena. Chappell played at Southfield Lathrup and Battier at Birmingham Detroit Country Day, where he was Mr. Basketball in Michigan last season. Both were steered to Duke by Detroit Piston star Grant Hill, a standout on the 1991-92 Blue Devil team that defeated the Wolverines in the NCAA final.
It would be North Carolina's first No. 1 ranking since the final Associated Press poll of the 1993-94 season. The Tar Heels are off to their best start since they won their first 21 games in 1985-86.
North Carolina fell behind 11-4 against Princeton (7-1) and trailed for all but 2 1/2 minutes of the first half. The second half wasn't much better until Vince Carter's follow shot with 7:16 left gave the Tar Heels the lead for good at 37-35. An 8-0 run gave them some breathing room.
Princeton held the Atlantic Coast Conference's leading scorer, Antawn Jamison, to a season-low six points, but made only four of 26 three-point shots.
No. 3 Kansas 103, Middle Tennessee 68--Guard Billy Thomas became the career leader in three-point baskets for the Jayhawks (11-1) in their nation-leading 51st consecutive home victory at Lawrence, Kan.
Thomas made two three-pointers during an 18-4 Kansas run in the second half to boost his total of 201 and move him ahead of Terry Brown. He left the game with the Jayhawks ahead, 67-36, and received a standing ovation as his mother, visiting from Louisiana, danced in the stands.
Middle Tennessee (4-2) had won four in a row after an opening loss to North Carolina.
No. 4 Kentucky 85, No. 24 Georgia Tech 71--Heshimu Evans, a reserve forward, scored six points in a 16-5 run that helped the Wildcats (8-1) overcome an 11-point deficit and gain control of the game at Lexington, Ky.
Evans had 14 points and 10 rebounds as Kentucky had a 30-4 edge in scoring from reserves and 51-34 rebounding advantage.
Georgia Tech (5-2) got 27 points from freshman guard Dion Glover and 22 from forward Matt Harpring.
No. 6 Arizona 99, Coppin State 82--The Wildcats (7-2) needed a 9-0 run midway in the second half at Tucson, Ariz., to give Coach Lute Olson his 350th victory in 15 seasons at the school.
Guard Miles Simon, who had only two points--both on free throws--in the first 30 minutes, made a three-point basket and had dunk in the decisive run. Simon finished with 15 points.
Forward Michael Dickerson had 28 points and center A.J. Bramlett had 17 points and 14 rebounds for Arizona, which had five players score in double figures.
Antoine Brockington, a senior guard, had a career-high 32 points for Coppin State (2-3).
No. 7 Xavier 88, Cincinnati 68--Guards Lenny Brown and Gary Lumpkin each scored 23 points as the Musketeers (6-1) had their most lopsided victory in 41 years over the rival Bearcats (4-2) at Cincinnati.
Cincinnati had 29 turnovers in suffering its worst defeat since a 90-63 loss to North Carolina in December 1993. Guard D'Juan Baker, who averaged 29.8 points in his previous four games, failed to make a field goal and finished with three points. Another of the Bearcats' leading scorers, forward Bobby Brannen, scored only five points and fouled out with 3:53 left.
No. 8 Purdue 107, San Francisco 82--The Boilermakers (8-2), trailing by a point at halftime, used a 16-2 run at the start of the second half to pull away from the Dons (5-2) and win the Boilermaker Invitational championship at West Lafayette, Ind.
Guard Chad Austin had 29 points and Mike Robinson came off the bench to score 22 for Purdue. Forward Hakeem Ward had 25 points for San Francisco.
No. 10 Iowa 60, Iowa State 59--Forward Ryan Bowen scored the decisive basket on a putback with 1:40 left and center Guy Rucker blocked a last-second shot as the Hawkeyes (7-1) escaped with a victory at Ames, Iowa. Iowa had lost to an in-state rival, Northern Iowa, earlier in the week.
Five players scored between nine and 12 points for Iowa, while Iowa State (4-3) got 19 points from guard Jerry Curry, who had five his team's season-high nine three-point baskets.
Illinois 71, No. 17 Clemson 61--Poor shooting continued to plague the Tigers (5-3) as they shot 34% and made only seven of 16 free throws in their first game in Chicago.
Forward Greg Buckner had 18 points and point guard Terrell McIntyre, bothered by a sore toe, had 16 for Clemson.
Illinois (7-3), by contrast, made 27 of 33 free throws, with guard Matt Heldman making all 14 of his en route to 17 points.
Pacific 85, No. 18 Fresno State 74--Guard Adam Jacobsen had a career-high 31 points, including seven three-point baskets in the first half, as the Tigers (7-3) won their 23rd home game in a row at Stockton.
Guard Rafer Alston's 21 points led Fresno State (3-3), which lost its third in a row.
No. 19 Maryland 104, Maryland Baltimore County 66--Forward Laron Profit scored 16 of his 18 points in a first half in which the Terrapins (5-3) shot 70% to build a 31-point lead at College Park, Md.
Guard Sarunas Jasikevicius had 18 points and eight assists for the Terrapins, who extended their nonconference home winning streak to 56 games and improved to 9-0 against Maryland Baltimore County (2-5).
No. 20 Temple 74, DePaul 43--Defense again was the key factor for the Owls (6-1) as the Blue Demons missed 20 of their first 21 shots and were 14 of 64 (22%) for the game at Philadelphia. Temple had 15 steals and blocked seven shots.
Forward Julian Dunkley led Temple with 15 points and DePaul's leading scorer, guard Jermaine Watts, had six points--12 below his season average.
No. 21 Mississippi 71, Wichita State 48-- Forward Ansu Sesay and reserve guard Joezen Darby had 15 points each as the Rebels (5-1) at Wichita, Kansas.
Jason Perez scored a game-high 20 points for Wichita State (2-6). He was the lone Shocker in double figures as his 10 teammates shot a combined eight of 42.
No. 23 Georgia 55, East Carolina 54--Forward Badi Oliver made a free throw with no time remaining as the Bulldogs (7-2) survived bad shooting (39.6%) and 16 turnovers to win at Greenville, N.C.
Forward Raphael Edwards had 22 points for East Carolina (4-4) but was charged with the final foul against Oliver, who had attempted only seven free throws this season, making four.