Duke defeated Texas Tech 78-73 Thursday night to advance to the Elite Eight, where they’ll play Arkansas Saturday.
Duke shot lights out down the stretch, making big shot after big shot and they needed every single one of them.
Forget every notion you may have heard about Duke being a Cadillac team or some such. This was a tough, gritty, street-fight game against a team whose much-hyped defensive prowess was no hype
Still, Duke made its last eight shots from the field to build a modest lead and hit 5 of 6 from the line over the final 25 seconds to make it hold up.
Duke shot 52 percent from the field for the game, an astonishing 71 percent from the field in the second half against what is statistically the best defense in the country.
It certainly took Duke some time to get it figured out. Duke shot air-balls on three of its first four possessions and then had two live-ball turnovers that led to fast-break baskets
and Mike Krzyzewski was forced to call timeout with his team down 10-2 barely four minutes into the game.
Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face And Duke was punched in the face.
But they responded after one of the best timeouts of Krzyewski’s career. Duke made it first four shots after the timeout and tied the game at 12-12.
“”Those first four minutes, we weren’t ready for that level of expertise on defense and their strength” Krzyzewski said after the game. “After that I thought we played well.”
But Duke could not get over the hump, not in the first half anyway. After a brief Duke lead the Red Raiders methodically built their lead back to 33-26, with a minute left in the half as Duke again went cold from the field.
Banchero made what might have been the biggest play of the game, an old-fashioned three-point play inside that made it 33-29 at the half and kept Duke in contact.
“The end of the half was critical,” Krzyzewski said. “They had a seven-point lead and we were able to score and then not let them score.”
Krzyzewski had another trick up his sleeve. Duke came out in the second half and played zone, Lots and lots and lots of zone.