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Duke Wins Game #2 In ACC Tournament, Advances To Play Florida State Thursday

Behind a brilliant game from freshman Mark Williams

ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament - Second Round
 GREENSBORO, NORTH CAROLINA - MARCH 10: Wendell Moore Jr. #0 of the Duke Blue Devils attempts a shot against Quinn Slazinski #11 of the Louisville Cardinals during the second half of their second round game in the ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament at Greensboro Coliseum on March 10, 2021 in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Survive and advance, the sequel.

Duke used Mark Williams’ inside dominance, the all-around brilliance of Matt Hurt and a suffocating defense to upend Louisville 70-56 Wednesday to advance to tomorrow night’s quarterfinal match against Florida State.

It’s hard to overstate the dominance of Williams, the 7- foot center from Virginia Beach. Williams scored 23 points and grabbed 19 rebounds, the latter a record for freshmen in an ACC Tournament game.

Nineteen rebounds?

“As far as the rebounding is concerned,” Williams said, “I think that was more just an effort thing, just attacking the glass. Coach told me attack the glass. I didn’t really rebound that well last game, so I had that in the back of my head today.”

Hurt added 20 points, making both of his 3-pointers, 4 of 5 from the line, scoring in pretty much every way imaginable.

Duke finished the game with toughness and resilience, overcoming a first-half shock and holding off every second-half comeback attempt Louisville could throw at them.

Duke led practically the entire game. After falling behind 4-3, Duke jumped to an 11-5 lead, saw Louisville tie it at 11, then went on a 16-2 run, holding the potent Cardinals offense to a single field goal over a span of six minutes.

It was 27-13. Could it possibly be this easy?

It could not.

Faster than you could say get-back-on-defense, Louisville came surging back, David Johnson and Carlik Jones fueling the comeback with transition 3s.

Louisville started the comeback at the under-4 media timeout, tied it a 27-27 with 1:19 left and took a 29-27 lead 32 seconds later.

A perfect time for a young Duke team to unravel.

But Duke found Hurt open for a 3-Mike Krzyzewski credited assistant coach Jon Scheyer with drawing up a “really good play”-and Duke took a tenuous 30-29 lead into halftime.

That last basket was a huge steadying influence on Duke.

“We just knew it was going to be a fight,” Williams said of Duke’s halftime approach. “We fought for the first 12 minutes and had a little lapse towards the end of the first half. But coming out in the second half, we knew we had to start aggressive and keep our foot on the gas.”

The Blue Devils came out of the locker room and quickly extended the lead. D.J. Steward and Jeremy Roach hit quick 3s and Duke was back up 39-29.

Duke had plenty of chances to let Louisville back into the game. The Blue Devils struggled from the line and didn’t get a single point from its bench, although senior guard Jordan Goldwire contributed in other ways, especially after Roach sat down with four fouls.

There were several key points. After Josh Nickelberry hit a 3 to make it 51-42, Duke’s Henry Coleman missed two foul shots. But Matt Hurt picked J.J. Traynor’s pocket. Williams was fouled at the other end.

Williams was 1-for-5 from the line at that point and it was a one-and-one. But Williams calmly stepped up and made both foul shots.

“Yeah, I was in a slump early” Williams said, “but Coach just gave me confidence to knock down the next one. At the free-throw line, you’ve got to clear your head from the last shot and just focus on the one in front of you.”

Or inside the under-eight timeout when Carlik Jones scored twice, first making it 57-49, then 59-51. Was Jones about to take over and carry Louisville on his back down the stretch as he did in the first two Duke-Louisville games?

Nope. Jones went scoreless over the final 6:15, as Duke pulled away.

Hurt says it was no accident.

“Of course, he’s a great guard, gets in the paint, can shoot it. I think just trying to key on him and Johnson especially, trying to keep them in front and make him kick. I think we did a great job of it.”

Krzyzewski gave a coach’s perspective.

“One of the first things is to get back and not allow transition, which we did a decent job of. But then we just tried to smother the lane. And exaggerated plugs is what we call, you know, plugging from another guy. You would do that somewhat, but today the defense we played was exaggerated. He still got in there a couple times but not like he has in the first two games that we played against them.”

Krzyzewski cited another key, Mark Williams, again.

“Those defensive rebounds in the last eight, ten minutes were the deciding factor in the game, really.”

Holding Louisville to 56 points on 30 percent shooting (19 for 62) was a key. Certainly Williams’interior dominance played a role but Duke successfully executed a game plan that Krzyzewski said they had barely practiced.

“It’s not zone, but we call it 11. It’s still man-to-man, but it’s a switching man, which really protects the paint. Instead of like trying to put a matchup in or anything like that, in the past we — not this year, but some of our teams in the past we did that, and we decided the best way to try to keep those two guards out of the lane was to do that. Our guys were able to pick this up in an — they got our game plan in an hour, and they were able to execute it.”

Losing coach Chris Mack agreed.

“They made some really good adjustments from the first couple games. Going in, they really stymied our offense and never could get us in a place where we felt comfortable. I thought we got a lot of open looks from three. They completely packed in the lane. They’ve got a seven-footer that’s hard to score on in and around the basket, and our inability to sort of convert some of the open looks that we had just crushed us on the offensive end.”

Duke is up to 13-11, which takes a losing record off the table. But Duke wants more and they will have to beat a fresh Florida State team tomorrow night to get it, It’s easy to talk the -one-game-at-a-time-talk but so far Duke has walked the walk.

Survive and advance.


Duke and Florida State didn’t meet this season, their only scheduled game being canceled ue to the Covid-19.

Williams and Hurt were Duke’s only double-figure scorers. Wendell Moore, Steward and Roach all scored nine points.

Johnson led the Cardinals with 14 points, one more than Jones.

Duke outrebounded Louisville 43-39, while holding them to 7 assists.

The win moves Duke’s ACC Tournament record to 105-45, the best mark in the league.


Player Of The Game vs. Louisville

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    Wendell Moore
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    Matthew Hurt
    (3 votes)
  • 96%
    Mark Williams
    (450 votes)
  • 0%
    DJ Steward
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    Jeremy Roach
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    Henry Coleman
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    Jaemyn Brakefield
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    Joey Baker
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    Jordan Goldwire
    (2 votes)
466 votes total Vote Now