Duke Advances to Sweet 16 after defeating URI 87-62

The Duke Blue Devils are Sweet 16 bound for the 30th time in school history, and although they’ve ‘been there and done that’, this is a team that continues to invent themselves along the way. This team looks like they are positioned to win their first NCAA Tournament since 2015.

 

Blue Devil head coach Mike Krzyewski  had his Blue focused with the look of a team on a mission in their first 2 victories (89-67 over Iona in the First Round and  87-62 over Rhode Island  Saturday).  The  sell-out PPG Paints Arena crowd of 19,015 watched Duke get it done against an upstart Rhode Island team that defeated Oklahoma and NCAA leading scorer Trae Young in the First Round. But the Blue Devils were simply too much for the 7th-seeded Rams.

 

 Duke Freshman sensation Marvin Bagley III continued to make possibly his only season  with the Blue Devils one to remember. The 6’11” Freshman  dominated the Rams with 22 points and 9 rebounds. He even found his range beyond the arc punching them in the mouth with a 3-pointer. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Bagley declared for the NBA, but Bagley certainly isn’t thinking about his future with work still to be done this season.

4 other Duke players scored in double-figures: Gary Trent Jr (18), Wendell Carter Jr (13), Trayvon Duvall (11) and Grayson Allen (10). The team from Durham dominated with distance connecting 10 times on 21 shots from three-point land.

 

But it was the Rams who made a strong impression at the beginning as they stormed  out to a  9-5 advantage led by EC Matthews who led all scorers with 23 points. The 6’5″ Red-Shirt senior  even added 4 three-pointers including the first one that gave the Rams a 3-0 lead. But it was just a matter of time before the Blue Devils would come back, and that they did as they quickly snatched away the lead from the Rams. Duke took the lead at  12-11  and never looked back.

With 5 minutes left in the first half, the Blue Devils led  35-18 and went into the locker room with a 45-28 lead. In the second half, Rhode Island tried to chip away at Duke’s lead, but it was too much to overcome as Duke heated up and ran away finishing with a 87-62 final score and a trip to Omaha, Nebraska for the Sweet 16.

 

For the Atlantic 10 Champion Rams, their season ends in disappointment, but it certainly wasn’t a disappointing season for Head Coach Danny Hurley and his crew.

 “For us, I guess, in a game like that, for a group that’s done so much, historic season, done so much for this University, so much for this program, so much for each other in their careers, not to mention myself. But credit Duke, they played an A-plus game. They looked like an NBA team out there with their size and length, and our guys fought.”

Now Hurley must endure countless media questions about him being a name in the University of Pittsburgh basketball team’s search for a head coach.

With Saturday’s win, Krzyzewski passed legendary Tennessee Women’s Basketball HC Pat Summit by recording his 1,099th win, the most Division I basketball wins.

When asked if he was aware, Coach K replied

“Yeah, you know what? I wasn’t aware of it until yesterday when somebody told me we tied that…. Pat would’ve won hundreds of more games if health had not taken her from us…”

In the earlier NCAA Tournament game: The Villanova Wildcats advanced to their 17th Sweet 16 in school history after defeating Alabama 81-58. Mikal Bridges led the Wildcats with 23 points and Collin Sexton led the Crimson Tide with 17 points. Coach Jay Wright and his cats will now  head to Boston, Massachusetts for their third round battle.

“Oh, by the way, I would like to thank all of the volunteers. Pittsburgh was a great site. People were great.”

Said Krzyzewski.

 

Please e-mail Ray at ray@urbanmediatoday.com
Follow him @urbanmediaRay on twitter

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