ORLANDO, FL — Tennessee’s physical play knocked Duke out of the game and out of the NCAA Tournament 65-52 on Saturday in the second round of the East Regional.
Olivier Nkamhua tied his career high with 27 points, including 13 straight for Tennessee during a crucial second-half stretch for the fourth-seeded Volunteers, who advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2019.
Tennessee (25-10) snapped Duke’s 10-game winning streak and sent first-year coach John Scheier, tasked with replacing Mike Krzyzewski, home after just two NCAA tournament games.
“We’re a tough, tough team,” Nkamhua said. “That’s how we play everybody. But knowing that they have a lot of freshmen, we knew if we came in and applied more pressure and were tough and physical, they were going to have to deal with it.
“What we said before the game was that we were going to get them in the dirt with us and make them play a tough, tough game and see if they were ready for it.”
The Vols used their brand of bully ball to dispatch the fifth-seeded Blue Devils (27-9).
“We feel like it’s in our power if we can do that,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said.
Nkamhua put the exclamation point on Tennessee’s victory with a slam dunk with 1:15 left. That prompted Vols fans to chant and sent many Duke fans to the exits.
“You have to really work for everything in a game like this,” said Scheier, whose team turned the ball over 15 times and went just 6-of-22 from 3-point range. “To open up, you have to work.”
Tennessee took on Florida Atlantic or Fairleigh Dickinson on Thursday at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Duke didn’t handle Tennessee’s physical style all day, and the officials seemed content to let the Vols play their bruising style. The Volunteers set the tone early, clearly looking to bypass Kyle Filipowski and get their hands on guards Jeremy Roach and Tyrese Proctor.
Vols big man Uras Plavsic picked up two offensive fouls in the first four minutes, both against Filipowski. Later, the 7-foot Duke elbowed him in the face and left him with a small cut under his left eye.
Proctor tried to field the ball several times, getting a five-second call, turning it over once and nearly giving it away again. Roach had even more trouble, finishing the first half with three fouls and four turnovers.
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“We prepare for a dogfight every game,” Nkamhua said. “If we get people to play our game, it’s just a guarantee that we’re going to be in our element.”
The Vols, meanwhile, took care of the ball much better than they did in their first-round win against Louisiana-Lafayette. They turned it over just nine times, their fewest since quarterback Zakai Zeigler suffered a season-ending knee injury last month.
Proctor led Duke with 16 points. Roach and Filipovsky dropped 13 people each.
Derek Lively II did not score, but had 11 rebounds and two blocks.
“I thought we were out of gas,” Schaer said.
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The Associated Press contributed.
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Source link Did Duke win? NCAA Tournament March Madness 2023 | Duke falls to physical Tennessee 65-52