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Double Jeopardy: Duke Wins Second Straight Buzzer Beater To Advance To 2019 Elite Eight

And you thought UCF was tight.

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NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-East Regional-Virginia Tech vs Duke
Mar 29, 2019; Washington, DC, USA; Duke Blue Devils guard Tre Jones (3) reacts after a basket during the second half against the Virginia Tech Hokies in the semifinals of the east regional of the 2019 NCAA Tournament at Capital One Arena.
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Short-handed Duke dodged another last-second layup to defeat Virginia Tech 75-73 Friday night and a smidge into Saturday morning.

The win moves Duke to an Elite Eight match-up with Michigan State at 5:05 EDT Sunday.

This will be Duke’s fifth trip to a regional final this decade.

Duke played the game without Cam Reddish, who sat our with an injury suffered right before the game, the fourth game this year Duke has lost at least one starter either before a game or in the early going.

Krzyzewski seemed as puzzled as anyone.

“Right before the game -- we didn’t know until right before the game that he was not going to be able to play. He went out. He just had something wrong with his knee. He was limping. But we didn’t find out until right before the game.”

Duke fought back from an early deficit, seemed to be on the verge of pulling away and then withstood a fierce VT comeback.

Zion Williamson led everyone with 23 points, adding six rebounds and three highlight-reel dunks. R.J. Barrett recovered from a slow start to end with 18 points and a career-high 11 assists, while Tre Jones picked up some of the scoring slack with a career-high 22 points, along with eight assists.

If you’re doing the math, that’s 63 of Duke’s 75 points from three players.

Not usually a recipe for a win. Nor is being outrebounded, losing the turnover battle and allowing your opponents to shoot almost twice as many foul shots, with foul trouble and limited bench production thrown into the mix.

All of which happened to Duke.

But somehow Duke willed itself to a win. Duke kept getting inside and converted 25-of-36 (69.4 percent) on two-pointers.

The Hokies jumped on Duke early, with Ahmed Hill hitting two 3-pointers before the first media timeout, the second putting Tech up 10-6.

Duke fought back and even led 28-24, after an Alex O’Connell layup; O’Connell got the start in Reddish’s absence.

But Tech knocked down 3s from Justin Robinson, Hill, and Robinson again and took a 38-34 lead into intermission.

Barrett got it going in the second half, scoring six of Duke’s first 11 points.

“First half really taking my drive away, and Tre was able to knock shots down and it was great. And then second half, Coach really made adjustments on the offense and I was able to get open.”

Tech took its last lead at 52-51, with 12:40 left.

Duke got some separation with a 9-0 run that included baskets from four different Blue Devils.

But Duke couldn’t build on that 60-52 lead, not against a confident Hokies team that came into the game boasting three wins over Duke in their last four meetings.

Kerry Blackshear was a big reason why Duke couldn’t put away the Hokies.

Blackshear converted a three-point play to make it 64-61, with 6:23 left and two foul shots to make it 68-66, with 4:24 left.

Another Tre Jones 3-pointer--his fifth of the game--started a Duke run that rebuilt the lead to 73-66.

When Marques Bolden hit two foul shots to give Duke a 75-69 lead with 1:21 left, Duke was in that position where all they had to do was not make mistakes.

They made mistakes.

Duke somehow forgot about Blackshear, who hit the chippie, making it 75-71

Williamson was called for a charge with 38 seconds left.

Jones fouled Robinson, who made it a two-point game with two from the line.

Jones was fouled and surprisingly missed the first end of the bonus, setting up another of those cardiac finishes that seems to have characterized Duke’s 2019 season.

The Techsters ran the clock down and Hill air-balled a 3. But Blackshear chased down the rebound--perhaps stepping on the line in doing so--and VT called their final timeout, with 5.8 seconds left.

This was the last of Blackshear’s 16 rebounds, 11 on the offensive end. He also had 18 points. This is after a 23-point, 10-rebound effort against Duke in Blacksburg last month.

Duke followed with a timeout of their own.

Outlaw badly missed a 3 but again Duke couldn’t come up with the loose ball, losing it out of bounds.

Tech was out of timeouts but the officials game them a freebie with another prolonged review that changed the time remaining from 0.6 to 1.1.

Tech executed the inbounds play perfectly, a Blackshear screen freeing Hill for the lob at the rim.

He missed.

“Hill kind of did a loop,” Williamson said “and I’m not even going to lie to you, when he caught it, I said, ah, we’re about to go to overtime. I mean I don’t know what happened. Like just kind of went our way with that play.”

Deep, cleansing breath.


At bed time, we have no idea if Reddish will be good to go Sunday. He dressed out, warmed up and sat on the bench during the game.

Fingers crossed.

In case you’re counting, we have to go back to February 16, against NC State, to find the last full game in which Duke’s core players were all healthy.

Bolden certainly looked sharper than he did last week and Duke did get a three-minute cameo from Jack White that hopefully presages a longer effort Sunday, especially if Reddish can’t go.

Jones hit 5-of-7 from beyond the arc.

“These guys believed in me all year, especially after last game with me struggling from 3. They kept believing in me. Coach kept telling me to take the shots and these guys kept telling me take my shots, and they were able to fall tonight.”

His five 3-pointers matched the Duke freshman NCAA-Tournament record set by J.J. Redick in 2003.

Barrett’s 11 assists are a school record for freshmen in an NCAA Tournament game.

O’Connell scored only four points, missed all four of his 3-pointers and was victimized a few times on defense. But he led Duke with seven rebounds

That’s a career high.

He added two assists and a steal and played 35 pretty high-pressure minutes after barely breaking a sweat last week.

“Alex did a tremendous job,” Krzyzewski said. “I mean, he led us in defensive rebounding and showed a tremendous poise. He didn’t hit his shot, but -- and our guys were really good with him in the locker room, on the court. And he responded. He responded really well.”

The 35 minutes is also a career high.

Duke had six blocks tonight. That gives them an ACC-record 248 on the season, three more than the 1999 Duke team.

Krzyzewski is now 97-29 in NCAA Tournament play, 114-37 overall.

Sunday will mark Duke’s 22nd Elite Eight appearance, 16th under Krzyzewski. Duke is 16-5.

Links for this story are here.


Player Of The Game vs. Virginia Tech

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    Javin DeLaurier
    (4 votes)
  • 6%
    RJ Barrett
    (101 votes)
  • 11%
    Zion Williamson
    (170 votes)
  • 78%
    Tre Jones
    (1144 votes)
  • 1%
    Alex O’ Connell
    (20 votes)
  • 0%
    Jack White
    (9 votes)
  • 0%
    Marques Bolden
    (10 votes)
1458 votes total Vote Now
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