Tennessee overthrows Duke to reach NCAA Tournament Sweet 16
Turnovers and foul issues sent No. 5 Duke to a 65-52 loss to No. 4 Tennessee in the second round of the NCAA Men’s Tournament, ending what had been a season ending abruptly. very promising under the freshman coach. Jon Scheyer.
Down 21-20 with less than five minutes left in the first half, Tennessee led a 9-0 run to take the halftime lead and never trailed the rest of the way. As Duke moved within five points with six minutes remaining in the second half, the Volunteers responded with a clutch shot from Olivier Nkamhoua to win the first meeting of the tournament between the two programs.
Tennessee was able to fend off the ACC champions by scoring 18 points on 15 Duke turnovers and picking up 12 second-chance points. The Blue Devils shot just 37.1% from the field.
The volunteers were led by Nkamhoua, a senior forward who finished with 27 points on 10 of 13 shooting, and senior guard Santiago Vescovi, who had 14 points, five rebounds and five assists.
Nkamhoua’s shot was decisive in the second half. His field goal and three straight possessions stopped a Duke run that had cut its deficit to four with nine minutes left. He would score 13 points in a row for Tennessee, capped off by a three with four minutes left that pushed the Volunteers 11 and put the game away.
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With junior guard Jeremy Roach committing his fourth foul less than halfway through the second half and there was no reliable depth on the bench, the Blue Devils were forced to press the same starting five while the Volunteers had nine players registered at least 11 minutes.
Duke was already without starting forward Mark Mitchell, who suffered a knee injury in practice Friday and was released late, according to the CBS broadcast.
With Dariq Whitehead entering the starting lineup, frontcourt substitutes Jacob Grandison and Ryan Young played a combined 21 minutes and scored just two points; the Blue Devils were vastly outclassed with Grandison and Young were on the field.
The 52 points scored tied Duke’s record for lowest in a tournament game.
The result is deeply frustrating for Duke, who had seemingly turned a corner in Scheyer’s debut by winning nine straight to end the regular season and then defeating No. 12 Oral Roberts 74-51 in the first round. Before Mitchell missed the game, the Blue Devils were 19-1 with their entire roster healthy.
Already a fashionable choice to advance deep into the tournament, the Blue Devils’ path to the Final Four looked even easier after No. 1 Purdue’s historic loss to No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson.
The volunteers will move on to the Sweet 16 against the winner of Sunday’s game between the Knights and No. 9 Florida Atlantic. This is coach Rick Barnes’ eighth Sweet 16 offer and second to Tennessee.
The loss sends Duke to the second round for the first time since 2017. The Blue Devils had reached the Elite Eight in the program’s last three tournament appearances, all under longtime coach Mike Krzyzewski, who retired after last season.