16.6, Duke 58 Pitt 58: Young makes a 16-footer from the baseline to give Pitt a two-point advantage, which is quickly negated when Henderson makes an NBA-like turnaround fadeaway from the corner to tie the score. Finally, Duke gets a stop when Young misses a 3 off a feed from Fields with little time left on the shot clock. Scheyer grabs the rebound, Paulus dribbles up floor, Duke timeout with 16.6 left. Who gets the last shot? At this point, it looks like a Henderson or Paulus dribble drive and a kick to Paulus, Henderson or Singler. Our call? Henderson for the win.
1:31, Duke 56 Pitt 56: Fields makes two free throws, Henderson drives the lane from the top of the key for an uncontested slam, Young makes a banked jumper, then Henderson finds Singler for a wide-open 3-pointer from the top of the key. The freshman swishes it. Timeout Duke. What a game.
2:34, Duke 51 Pitt 52: If you're not watching this game, put it on. Right now. And if you don't have access to a television--well, I apologize, because this blog simply can't capture in words the last four minutes. The Panthers have taken their first advantage since leading 2-0, but Duke has not gone down easily. Pitt has owned the offensive glass and even though Duke has missed too many shots, Henderson and Singler have stepped up and it's clear they are not afraid to take clutch shots. Play is getting chippy, and substitutions have been a plenty, but the team's final lineups seem to be clear. The game is fast-paced, the crowd is feeling the energy and thriving off of it, and the best players on both sides (Henderson, Singler, Paulus for Duke; Fields, Ramon, Blair for Pitt) are taking the key shots when they matter most. Folks, this one is going to come down to the wire. If you don't have access to ESPN--well, find someone who does. Quickly.
7:49, Duke 48 Pitt 47: The classic game that seemed unlikely in the first half is becoming a reality in front of our eyes. Pitt has embarked on a 10-0 run to cut the deficit to one, and the Panthers had a chance to take the lead on their last possession before Paulus drew an offensive foul. Despite impressive play by Singler, who took an intentional foul, converted both free throws and then finished a tough inside basket with authority on the ensuing Duke possession, Pitt has gotten back into this game doing exactly what it did in the first half: playing more physical than Duke. The Blue Devils have missed their past few shots and Krzyzewski even called a timeout when Fields sunk a 3-pointer to slice the deficit to three. After a steal on the next possession, Blair made a tough layup to almost even the game. There is a buzz in the crowd now that hasn't been heard since before tip. One thing's for sure: we look to be primed for a great ending.
11:47, Duke 43 Pitt 35: Apparently, no one told Pitt that the game was over. The Panthers have mounted an impressive run, cutting Duke's lead down to eight and the Panthers head to the line, shooting two. The momentum clearly lies in their favor right now, especially after King just missed a 3-pointer that would have given the Blue Devils an 11-point lead. Scheyer had a rough sretch, missing three straight shots, but made up for his last miss on a layup to steal a short pass in the backcourt when no one was looking and scored when his layup was illegally goaltended. We'll see what Duke is made of the rest of this game, especially in this upcoming stretch. This is the team's first true adversity since the Marquette game, and the Blue Devils clearly overcame that challenge.
15:51, Duke 39 Pitt 26: A rough stretch for the officials did not affect Duke's double-digit lead. After the Panthers cut the lead to 10, Singler dished a beautiful pass to Thomas down low, after the freshman was double-teamed. He found the open man, and Thomas laid the basket home. A few plays later, Nelson drove the lane and made a layup but was called for a charge; that charge was quickly overturned by the officials and Nelson was credited with an and-1 and made the free throw. The next play, Dave McClure was whistled for a loose-ball foul, but the referees initially charged it to Henderson. It would have been his third foul, and the Duke coaching staff reacted in turn before the correct player was hit with the foul. During the last timeout, Duke legend and Pittsburgh native Dick Groat was serenaded with a nice applause for his career accomplishments. For those of you watching on ESPN, stay tuned as new head football coach David Cutcliffe will be interviewed on the worldwide leader soon, we're told.
HALFTIME: Some interesting statistics from halftime:
- Nelson, and not Paulus, leads Duke with six assists.
- Paulus' assist-to-turnover ratio is 0-to-4.
- Duke and Pitt both have 19 rebounds.
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