March 31, 2023
Tennessee topples Duke with defense, decisive shots to reach Sweet 16

Tennessee topples Duke with defense, decisive shots to reach Sweet 16

Turnovers and foul trouble sent No. 5 Duke to a 65-52 loss to No. 4 Tennessee in the second round of the NCAA Men’s Tournament, marking a brutal end to what had been a very promising run at the end of the season under the guidance of the first-year coach. Jon Scheyer.

Down 21-20 with less than five minutes to go in the first half, Tennessee went on a 9-0 run to take the lead at halftime and never trailed the rest of the way. As Duke closed to within five points with six minutes remaining in the second half, the Volunteers responded with clutch shots from Olivier Nkamhoua to win the first meeting of the tournament between the two programs.

Tennessee was able to hold their own against the ACC champions by scoring 18 points on 15 Duke turnovers and scoring 12 second chance points. The Blue Devils shot just 37.1% from the field.

Tennessee forward Olivier Nkamhoua (13) celebrates after defeating Duke in the second round of the 2023 NCAA Men’s Tournament at Legacy Arena.

The Volunteers were led by Nkamhoua, a senior forward who finished with 27 points on 10-of-13 shooting, and senior shooting guard Santiago Vescovi, who had 14 points, five rebounds and five assists.

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Nkamhoua’s shot was critical in the second half. His field goal and three on consecutive possessions stopped a Duke run that had cut their deficit to four with nine minutes to go. He scored 13 straight points for Tennessee, capped by a 3-pointer with four minutes to go that pushed the Volunteers 11 and put the game out.

“That’s what we do,” Nkamhoua said. “We’re a tough, tough team. That’s how we play everyone. But knowing that they had a lot of rookies, we knew if we came in and applied more pressure and were tough and physical, then they would have to deal with him.”

With junior guard Jeremy Roach committing his fourth foul less than halfway through the second half and without reliable depth off the bench, the Blue Devils were forced to rely on the same five starters while the Volunteers had nine players signing at the start. least 11 minutes.

Duke was already without starting forward Mark Mitchell, who suffered a knee injury in practice Friday and was late, according to the CBS broadcast.

With Dariq Whitehead entering the starting lineup, frontcourt backups Jacob Grandison and Ryan Young played a combined 21 minutes and scored just two points; the Blue Devils were heavily outplayed with Grandison and Young on the court.

The 52 points scored tied Duke’s lowest record in a tournament game.

The result is deeply frustrating for Duke, which had apparently turned around Scheyer’s debut by winning nine straight to end the regular season and then outscoring No. 12 Oral Roberts 74-51 in the first round. Before Mitchell missed the game, the Blue Devils were 19-1 with their entire lineup healthy.

Already a fashionable pick to advance deep into the tournament, the Blue Devils’ path back to the Final Four looked even easier after No. 1 Purdue’s historic loss to No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson.

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 veteran coach Mike Krzyzewski, who retired after the season. pass.

“We’ve really had a great season, and it’s hard to reflect on all of that right now,” Scheyer said. “I ache for these guys. They’ve given us everything you could ask for. They’ve fought through adversity. They stuck together when things didn’t look so good and came into this game as one of the best teams.” in the country, and we felt like we were supposed to win this game, just like they did.”

The Volunteers will advance to the Sweet 16 against the winner of Sunday’s matchup between the Knights and No. 9 Florida Atlantic. This is coach Rick Barnes’ eighth Sweet 16 offering overall and his second in Tennessee.

“I’ll tell you what, no team deserves more than what’s happened, what these guys have gone out and won this week, and I’m very proud,” Barnes said. “As a coaching staff, we are proud of them and we look forward to starting next week.”

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Tennessee defeats Duke to reach NCAA Sweet 16 Tournament

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