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Sweet 16! Duke Rolls Over Cal, 68-53

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Of all the people associated with California basketball, Jamaal Boykin should've known better than to say this: "It was shocking not being able to score" against Duke's defense.

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Of course, the former Blue Devil spent the better part of three semesters learning precisely how that defense works. We're shocked that he's shocked. Among his teammates at Duke were such stalwart defenders as Shelden Williams, Sean Dockery DeMarcus Nelson, Dave McClure, and Lance Thomas.

His original college coach, Mike Krzyzewski, is well known as a defensive master. We're frankly a bit baffled that he could be surprised.

His current coach, Mike Montgomery, was less surprised. After the game, he as much as said what we had suspected, that Stanford's Johnny Dawkins is probably a key source of scouting information: "I mean, they were well-prepared, where they would have gotten their scouting information...that seems easy to figure."

Fair enough.

Still, the game is played on the floor and Duke managed to exploit their advantages far better than Cal did theirs in beating the Bears, 68-53.

As Boykin noted, Duke made it very difficult for Cal to get an easy shot. As they so often have done over the years, Duke took away the three-point shot. Cal averages nearly 78 points per game; Duke held them to 53.

In particular, they made it very difficult for Jerome Randle and Patrick Christopher to do much of anything. Christopher, who was hurt by an inadvertent elbow at the beginning of the game and had to leave the game to get stitches, was held to 1-4 from the floor and only two opportunities from three-point range.

Randle was 5-12 overall and took six three-pointers, making just two.

As a team, Cal made three. In the first half, they shot 44% overall; in the second half that fell 34.8%.

Generally speaking, Duke was able to use their size advantage to great effect. What Cal was probably not expecting was Duke's quickness, and the key element there was Nolan Smith.

Smith did a number on Randle that he won't soon forget: "From the get-go, I really wanted to make it clear that I was going to be in his jersey the whole game. That was the game plan," Smith said in the post-game press conference. "I just stuck with him with the help of my big guys. They really helped me out, and I owe it all to them. They made my job easy fighting over screens and giving them no open looks."

Montgomery had assumed that Randle, just 5-8, was significantly quicker than Smith. As it turns out, he wasn't, and Smith's being a half foot taller obviously helped.

It helped on offense too, because Randle couldn't contain Smith, who shot 9-18 for 20 points.

The other obvious beneficiary of Duke's height advantage was Brian Zoubek, who shot 6-6 for 14 points and also grabbed 13 rebounds. He gave Cal fits the whole game. In fact, one play may have exemplified the entire mismatch: while fending off Cal's Markhuri Sanders-Frison, he reached over and blocked a layup by Randle. He didn't jump to do it, and didn't even have to straighten his arm.

A big part of the reason why he was so open and scored so easily was that Cal focused heavily on Kyle Singler, who shot 6-12 and finished with 17 points. Even so, Zoubek hit a beautiful hook shot from the lane, and for what we think is only the second time in his college career, dunked.

Jon Scheyer, partly because Cal keyed on him, shot a miserable 1-8 and finished with seven points. Not a vintage Scheyer game scoring wise, but he still had a smart floor game.

Both Miles and Mason Plumlee were solid, and gave Cal fits inside.

If you haven't noticed yet, Miles has developed a nice jumpshot from around the foul line area which is becoming a reliable weapon.

For Cal, Boykin had a solid game, and it must have meant a lot to him to play well against Duke. He finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds, and played a solid, intelligent game -- just as we would've expected.

We realized, as Boykin did, that he was probably not going to be a huge factor at Duke. Nonetheless, he is by all accounts an extraordinary young man. We were very sorry to see him go, but nonetheless pleased to see he has succeeded at Cal. Near the end of the game, the Duke band revived the cheer he heard at Duke: "who let Jamal out," a takeoff on Who Let the Dogs Out by the Baja Men. He doesn't have the physical ability to compete at the highest levels, but he has enormous heart and wonderful character.

And while clearly has a long way to go before he becomes a serious player, it's pretty easy see the potential of Max Zhang. He's tall obviously (7-3) and reasonably agile, and has the potential become a serious force. He's a player to keep an eye on.

Next up for Duke in the Sweet 16 will be Purdue. They've been playing without Robbie Hummel, who had a season-ending injury, but Purdue has rolled on. They surely haven't forgotten the ACC-Big Ten Challenge matchup when Duke visited West Lafayette and blew up the Boilermakers in 2008.

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