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Duke Holds On To Beat Yale 71-64, Moves On The Sweet Sixteen

It was a tale of two halves and then a tale of survival for the Blue Devils.

Mar 19, 2016; Providence, RI, USA; Yale Bulldogs guard Anthony Dallier (1) shoots over Duke Blue Devils guard Brandon Ingram (14) and forward Chase Jeter (2) during the first half of a second round game of the 2016 NCAA Tournament
Mar 19, 2016; Providence, RI, USA; Yale Bulldogs guard Anthony Dallier (1) shoots over Duke Blue Devils guard Brandon Ingram (14) and forward Chase Jeter (2) during the first half of a second round game of the 2016 NCAA Tournament
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

In Providence on Saturday afternoon, Yale really underscored something we've been saying since about the time Duke lost to UConn in 1999: experience is just as important as talent, and sometimes it trumps talent.

It nearly did in this game.

Duke had a magnificent first half - brilliant really. They were at near peak efficiency.

Grayson Allen had 22 points and Duke was just shutting Yale down.

Yale started out 5-8 and finished the half 11-32. Duke outshot the Bulldogs 60.7% to 34.4%. Yale outrebounded Duke 18-15, true to form, but Duke didn't leave that many shots to rebound anyway.

As we said, brilliant.

In the second half, though, Yale made it clear that this was not a team that was going to give up. And why should it have?

Of Yale's core, four players are seniors. They've been on the other side of this sort of game plenty of times. As freshmen, they were part of a 14-17 team.

Yale gets a ton of credit for being tough-minded, for maturing, and for playing like the champions they are.

They were almost good enough to knock off a team with two likely first-round draft picks. An Ivy League team! Harvard has gotten us used to the idea, but still. It's pretty amazing when you stop and think about it.

Duke was cruising along after that brilliant first half when Yale made back to back threes to cut the lead to 54-38 with 14:48 left. The Bulldogs, being an experienced and savvy team, knew they were back in the game - and had a chance to make an immortal NCAA comeback at the expense of one of college basketball's giants.

For the rest of the half, Duke was a little shaky. After the second three, Grayson Allen and Brandon Ingram missed threes. Then Ingram missed a two point shot. Then Marshall Plumlee fouled, Matt Jones had a turnover, Luke Kennard missed another shot, Jones missed another three and Plumlee fouled again.

Duke didn't score again until Ingram hit a jumper with 11:16 left to push Duke's lead back to nine at 56-47.

Duke stabilized somewhat, but Jones picked up his fourth foul with 10:02 to go and Plumlee got his fourth with 8:52 to play.

At that point, Duke had one sophomore - Allen - and four freshmen - Kennard, Ingram, Derryck Thornton and Chase Jeter - on the court.

It was a recipe for disaster really: take your only seniors out when the team is buckling and rely on untested freshmen?

Yale's eyes must have gotten bigger at that point.

But Duke switched to a 1-3-1 and Brandon Ingram, as he did in Durham, made life really tough for Yale.

Duke buckled but didn't break. Yale kept coming and Duke kept doing risky, dangerous things. A lot of mistakes were covered up by subsequent Yale mistakes - on one play, the Blue Devils coughed it up, Yale took off for a break - and the ball went off of a Bulldog's leg out of bounds.

Plumlee came back in when the game got under about 6:00. He was working his team on the bench, urging everyone on, and when he came back in, he played really, really hard. He blocked one shot, and another play looked like a block shot at first glance but was really a high pass, so within a minute and change, he denied Yale twice.

Ingram hit a three with 3:37 left to put Duke up 65-53 but Yale wasn't going away.

On a rebound, it looked to us like Plumlee accidentally tipped the ball in for Yale (it was credited to Justin Sears).

Ingram missed a subsequent layp then Sherrod scored to cut the lead back to eight.

Allen had a turnover followed by one by Sears (we think that was the one off his leg we mentioned above), Then Sherrod had a steal.

Yale's Dallier hit his free throws to cut the lead to six with 1:46 left - plenty of time.

Ingram missed a layup, then Makai Mason missed one from deep. Matt Jones fouled out on the subsequent rebound. Sears hit both free throws to cut the lead to just four.

Yale then made the mistake of putting Luke Kennard on the line (88%) and he hit both.

With :41 seconds left, Kennard fouled Sherrod, who made both of his to cut the lead back to five. Then he followed that with a shot to make it 67-64.

Yale sent Ingram to the line, where he hit both.  He went back again with :17 left and missed the front end. After that it was basic game management and the young Blue Devils did well.

Actually Duke shut out the more experienced Yale team for the last :41 seconds.