Just like old times for Duke Blue Devils.
Rasheed Sulaimon scored 21 points; Seth Curry had 17 and the No. 2 seed Blue Devils beat 7th-seeded Creighton Bluejays 66-50 to advance to the NCAA round of 16 for the 4th time in 5 years.
One year after they lost their NCAA tournament opener, the Blue Devils (29-5) return to the regional semifinals for the 27th time. They’ll play No. 3 seed Michigan State (27-8) on Friday in Indianapolis.
Let upsets strike down the other heavy favorites. It’s back to business as usual for the Blue Devils.
”We’ve got another 5 days to live here,” Coach Mike Krzyzewski expounded. ”We’ve going to be forced to be really good playing Michigan State Spartans.”
The Duke Blue Devils will need to silence the whistle to keep the run alive. Mason Plumlee, Josh Hairston and Ryan Kelly battled foul trouble all game long that would have doomed the Blue Devils. Throw in 39% shooting, and the Blue Devils are some distance from playing their best in March.
While other high-seeded teams like Gonzaga Bulldogs and Georgetown Hoyas made early exits, the Blue Devils are heading off to Indy.
”It was just so difficult,” Krzyzewski said. ”It was the best defense we played all year.”
Florida Gulf Coast beat San Diego State 81-71 in the opener in Philadelphia that had the crowd of more than 20,000 buzzing after the upset win.
Duke’s victory could not match it in excitement or intensity.
But that’s OK for the Duke. They’re not in it for style points. They’re here to win Krzyzewski’s 5th national championship.
Still, the Blue Devils haven’t advanced past the round of 16 since Krzyzewksi won his 4th nationwide championship in 2010. They lost last year to Lehigh and spent their first 3 days in Philadelphia still having to answer for that one. Yes, even after they beat Albany in the 2nd round. Basketball scores
Creighton (28-8) went cold and never made a very serious run in the 2nd half. Doug McDermott scored 21 points but made only 4 baskets.
”They did a great job on me, really physical, switched on each screen making it frustrating,” McDermott asserted. ”I missed a lot of shots I usually make, so that was unlucky.
With McDermott slumping, the Creighton were knocked out in the 3rd round by an ACC team for the 2nd straight season. They played their last game under the Missouri Valley Conference banner and move on next season to the Big East.
”They’re a big reason Creighton Bluejays moved to the Big East,” Coach Greg McDermott recounted of his team.
Foul difficulty badgered the Duke Blue Devils from the opening tip. Plumlee hit the bench after he was whistled for his 4th foul early in the 2nd half.
Hairston picked up his 4th foul at the 15:21 mark, allowing Ethan Wragge to convert a 3-point play that inched the Bluejays closer.
Curry came right back with a 3-pointer and followed with a layup to make it 39-30. Plumlee and Kelly, each with 4 fouls, returned to the game as Krzyzewski clearly wanted his best players in there to attempt to put away Creighton Bluejays.
”Seth got a couple of big ones for us,” Krzyzewski expounded.