FINAL: Duke 77, Arizona 93
That's it from Anaheim, be sure to check the Blue Zone and the Friday issue of The Chronicle for recap and analysis the game.
3:07 1st Half: Duke 72, Arizona 90
The only thing left to remember from Anaheim is the eventual check-out of two of the greatest players in program history, Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler. With 2:01 remaining, Singler and Smith made their final walk to the bench to a standing ovation.
6:47 2nd Half: Duke 63, Arizona 77
There may be a mathematical possibility for Duke to come back in this game, but the look on Kyle Singler's face tells you otherwise. The Blue Devils are simply being outmatched by an inspired Wildcat squad in every department. There's not one person to blame or one area that could be improved, Duke is being comprehensively outworked.
9:26 2nd Half: Duke 59, Arizona 69
As dire as the situation looks currently for Duke, there is still plenty of time in the game to close the gap. A mystifying call against Kyle Singler for pushing Derrick Williams out of bounds gives the senior his fourth, meaning Singler will have to play error-free defense for the rest of the night.
11:01 2nd Half: Duke 57, Arizona 66
Mason Plumlee had what appeared to be a clean block on Horne that would have eliminated a dunk, but the sophomore was called for the shooting foul. Horne drained both.
The Blue Devils, however, compounded their misfortune with sloppy play, and allowed the Wildcats to score six straight to bring the deficit to 11. A misplaced handoff from Kelly to Smith enabled Brendon Lavender to steal the ball and race down the court for an easy uncontested dunk. If Duke doesn't match Arizona's intensity for the remainder of the game, any dreams of a repeat will be shattered in Anaheim.
13:50 2nd Half: Duke 53, Arizona 60
Jemelle Horne was scoreless, until a kick out from Derrick Williams led to a giant 3-pointer from Horne that extended the Wildcat lead to 5. After Irving missed a tough shot on the other end, Lamont Jones earned himself a layup that sent the crowd into a frenzy. Danger time for the Blue Devils. Since the start of the half, Arizona gone on a 22-9 run.
15:18 2nd Half: Duke 53, Arizona 53
The Wildcat comeback continues, but in this half, it isn't just Derrick Williams doing the dirty work. Jesse Perry and Lamont Jones both hit open jumpers, and Arizona is beginning to push the pace offensively and look to score on the fast break. So far, Duke hasn't been able to slow them down, but the Blue Devils are going to need to assert their will on the game over the next five minutes, or they'll face an extremely tough test down the stretch--beating the Wildcats on the road, effectively.
17:04 2nd Half: Duke 51, Arizona 47
A quick 9-2 run by the Wildcats, sparked by Kyle Fogg's 3-pointer from the corner, forced Krzyzewski to call a timeout to try and stall the outburst and quiet a very pro-Arizona crowd. Out of the timeout, Nolan Smith fired a pass to the corner to an open Andre Dawkins, who drilled the shot.
19:33 2nd Half: Duke 46, Arizona 38
Nolan Smith opened the scoring on Duke's first possession of the half, but the Blue Devils' suffered yet another injury scare this postseason when Seth Curry went to the ground, apparently injuring his hip while fighting for a loose ball. Smith, who ran over to curry to check his condition, waved off the trainers and Curry walked off, albeit slowly, under his own power. Irving replaces him in the lineup.
HALFTIME: Duke 44, Arizona 38
The Blue Devils thought they were going to have the momentum at the half, but Derrick Williams snatched it right back for himself. The sophomore continues to be razor-sharp from behind the arc, and his deep 3-pointer just before the buzzer makes it only a six point deficit for the Wildcats. Williams, with five first-half 3-pointers, has already matched his most prolific outside shooting performance of the season. On March 10, he nailed five treys to bury Oregon State, but his output tonight has to be frustrating Krzyzewski, who would likely otherwise be very pleased with his team's defensive showing. It will be interesting to see how the Duke defense adjusts to quell Williams in the second half, who already has 25 points on the night.
Kyle Singler, famously mired in a shooting slump, has put in an outstanding first half that, along with the production of Irving, has kept the Blue Devils out in front.
1:54 1st Half: Duke 39, Arizona 35
Duke is running the offense efficiently, but Derrick Williams's hero act is keeping Arizona in the game. Two more long treys from the forward, giving him 4 on the night and 22 points in total, is breaking an otherwise solid effort from the Blue Devil defense. There's not much you can do as a defense when the power forward is knocking down shots from that kind of range, however, it's simply too hard to guard.
4:20 1st Half: Duke 33, Arizona 25
It seemed like the Blue Devils had a chance to blow the game open, but the Wildcats responded with a 7-2 run of their own to close the gap. Irving is now the target of double teams on nearly every possession, and he hasn't yet been able to pick out the open man over the top of the defense.
6:14 1st Half: Duke 31, Arizona 20
Smith's aggressiveness has the senior in trouble now, as he picked up his second foul of the half on a charge driving to the rim. On the next possession, Irving simply shot over the defense rather than trying to break it down, and drilled a 3-pointer, before earning another two in the lane. Irving's finish, which silenced the Honda Center crowd, caps an 8-0 run for the Blue Devils.
7:50 1st Half: Duke 23, Arizona 20
Nolan Smith nearly took 10 full minutes to get his first points of the game, but finally connected on a mid-range jumper from the top of the lane. Smith didn't have any open looks up until that point, but the conversion seems to have invigorated him offensively, and Smith is beginning to look for his shot.
Williams took even longer to get his first post-up points of the evening, taking advantage of his strength advantage over Singler and easily establishing position right under the bucket for a quick two with 8:22 left in the half.
11:47 1st Half: Duke 19, Arizona 16
Sean Miller gave Williams his first breather of the night, and Krzyzewski immediately went small with a lineup featuring Smith, Irving and Dawkins on the court at the same time, with Singler at the four spot and Miles Plumlee under the basket. A 3-pointer from Jordin Mayes cut the Duke lead to one, but Irving found his way through the defense to the front of the rim yet again, and finished off the glass to extend the Blue Devil lead.
After the media timeout, Miller put Williams back into the game, but Krzyzewski stuck to his guns, with three guards on the floor-- this time, Smith, Curry and Dawkins.
12:53 1st Half: Duke 17, Arizona 13
The star players from each team are showing up early. Both Derrick Williams and Kyle Singler have 10 points already, and Kyrie Irving has converted on a pair of tough shots enabled by his ability to penetrate the perimeter defense of Arizona.
Defensively, though Williams has connected on a pair of long 3-pointers, both Miles and Mason Plumlee have been disruptive around the basket and Williams hasn't gone to his post game yet.
16:02 1st Half: Duke 8, Arizona 6
Sophomore Derrick Williams is trying to assert himself early, and a three from the wing gave the Wildcats an early lead, but back-to-back 3-pointers from Kyle Singler have Duke back on top.
Miles Plumlee picked up a cheap foul on the first possession of the game, and the Duke big men will have to play smart and stay out of foul trouble, considering Derrick Williams's aggressiveness in the post.
Krzyzewski said mid-week that star freshman point guard Kyrie Irving would play "significant minutes" tonight, and Irving's already in the ballgame, checking in for Seth Curry at the 17:12 mark.
For Duke: Nolan Smith, Seth Curry, Miles Plumlee, Mason Plumlee, Kyle Singler.
For Arizona: Lamont Jones, Kyle Fogg, Derrick Williams, Jesse Perry, Solomon Hill.
Pregame: Hello and welcome to the Blue Zone's live blog coverage of top-seeded Duke's Sweet 16 matchup with No. 5 Arizona. Coming to you from the Honda Center in Anaheim, California, the Blue Devils and Wildcats take center stage after Kemba Walker lit up San Diego State to push the Huskies into the Elite Eight. Duke earned its trip to the Golden State after demolishing 16-seed Hampton and squeaking past a determined Michigan squad, but head coach Mike Krzyzewski is pleased with the progress his team has made in practice, especially with incorporating Kyrie Irving back into the offense, indicating the Blue Devils may be able to avoid the late-game struggles which plagued them against the Wolverines.
The Wildcats, meanwhile, have won their opening two games by a combined three points, including a 77-75 thriller over Memphis and a 70-69 upset win over No. 4 Texas. Star forward Derrick Williams has been the driving force behind Arizona's success, and the game in Anaheim marks a homecoming of sorts for Williams, who lives just 11 miles away in La Mirada. The sophomore has averaged 18.5 points and 9.5 rebounds a game in the tournament thus far
Perhaps even more impressive is Williams's ability to stretch the floor on offense, as the 6'8", 241-pounder shoots an alarming 58 percent from behind the arc. Though he's only shot 1-of-4 from deep so far in the tournament, Williams has proven over the course of the year that he's simply too good to be left open outside. His shooting touch could put immense pressure on the Duke defense, and if Arizona's other outside shooters can take advantage of the open looks Williams may provide them with, it could be a long night for the Blue Devils.
Duke will also have to contend with a hostile Honda Center crowd, which in predominately dressed in the reds of Arizona and San Diego State. The Connecticut faithful still in attendance will likely side with the Wildcats cause as well, meaning the Blue Devils will have play to their potential if they hope to keep the fans out of the game.