Duke can't match Tennessee's physicality, ousted in second round of NCAA Tournament

Steve Wiseman, The News & Observer on

Published in Basketball

ORLANDO, Fla. — Down a starting player with with another in foul trouble, Duke switched defenses regularly in the second half, but its failure to stop Tennessee’s Olivier Nkamhoua halted the Blue Devils' season.

Nkamhoua scored 27 points, including 13 straight Volunteers points during a key stretch of the second half, as No. 4 Tennessee eliminated No. 5 Duke, 65-52, in an NCAA Tournament East Region second-round game at Amway Center.

The Vols (25-10) advance to play either No. 16 Fairleigh-Dickinson or No. 9 Florida Atlantic on Thursday in the regional semifinals at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

Saturday’s loss ended Duke’s 10-game winning streak, and also brought coach Jon Scheyer’s first season at the helm following Hall of Famer Mike Krzyzewski’s retirement to an abrupt halt.

The Blue Devils were without Mark Mitchell, their 6-8 freshman forward, who missed the game after tweaking a knee in practice on Friday. Mitchell was originally in the starting lineup, but after pregame warmups, was replaced by Dariq Whitehead.

Tennessee led the entire second half after taking a 27-21 halftime advantage. Duke drew as close as two points early in the second half. Even with Duke junior guard Jeremy Roach having picked up his fourth foul with 15:01 to play, the Blue Devils sliced the Tennessee lead to 46-42 when Kyle Filipowski scored in the lane with 9:10 left.


But Nkamhoua scored Tennessee’s next 13 points, some while Duke played zone defense to protect Roach from getting his fourth foul, and some against Duke’s man-to-man sets.

His 3-pointer with 4:16 left gave the Vols a 59-48 lead. That was the second 3-pointer during that stretch for the 6-9 forward who matched his career high in scoring. Santiago Vescovi added 14 for Tennessee.

Duke shot 43.8% and committed 15 turnovers in the loss. Tyrese Proctor led Duke with 16 points while Roach and Filipowski scored 13 each.

After scoring the last nine points of the first half, Tennessee pushed its run to 12-0 when James hit a 3-pointer to start the half and give the Vols a 30-21 lead.


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