LIVE BLOG: Duke 74, Texas 69 (FINAL)

Duke 74-69, FINAL: And that's a wrap. Wow. By far the best game I've seen all year. I don't know where to start. It looked like Duke would pull away late, then Texas came back, Singler fouled out, treys rimmed out... we're going to head to the press conferences to get our minds wrapped around this one.

Duke 73-69, :7.2; It's March Madness!!!!! Williams missed both free throws, but David McClure, as he has so often, forced the issue and a mad scramble ensued on the rebound. Henderson came up with it, was fouled and raised his arms in triumph. He just made the first and we're in a timeout right now. It took 59:53, but G might have finally made the play that secured that first Sweet 16 berth for his class.

Duke 72-69, :11.5: Bet Elliot Williams never had free throws this important. A series of close range shots missed for Texas and Scheyer, scrambling for the ball, hurled it down the court and Williams was fouled in the scramble. Sink one and you might have secured a Sweet 16 berth.

Duke 72-69, :30.8: I don't know what to say. I just nearly lost my hearing from this building. Henderson missed again but Nolan Smith was fouled on the putback as he made both free throws. Damion James then shot a three that rolled in... and around... and out the rim. Henderson then made one free throw for the three point lead.

Duke 69-67, 1:07: Not quite. Singler tipped in Henderson's miss, putting the Blue Devils back up; unfortunately, it's all he'll be doing today. He just fouled out and Johnson will be shooting free throws to try and tie the game.

Tied 67, 1:36: Well we asked for a game that would live up to this afternoon's series, and we got it. Ward, who has torn apart the Blue Devils all day, just nailed a jumper with his foot on the line to tie the game up. It's pretty apparent which way the momentum is leaning right now, but Duke will have the ball coming out of a timeout. Aside from that one monstrous dunk, Henderson is nowhere to be seen. Is this the time for his shining moment of his career so far?

Duke 67-63, 3:39: Who's going to suffer from foul trouble first? If you know the answer to that question, then you probably know who will win this game. Lance Thomas just fouled out while Singler has been playing with four since around the five-minute mark. Texas, meanwhile, still has Pittman saddled with four, as well as Gary Johnson. If either team loses their stud--Singler or Pittman--it would make things a lot more difficult for that team.

Duke 60-54, 7:54: Remember what we were saying earlier about drawing fouls? Scheyer does it well. Really, really well. Seeing Ward up in the air, Scheyer jumped and drew the foul, and it will be two shots at the free throw line.

You'd think Texas would know better by now than to leave Singler as wide open as he was on the perimeter, since it's been those he's knocked down and the ones where he's rushed that clang out. Singler knocks down the 3-point shot, and Scheyer makes one of his own after some quick passing around the perimeter by the Blue Devils.

Duke 51-47, 10:58: And Pittman just got his fourth foul going into the TV timeout. I don't have an exact stat but I'd be shocked if Texas hasn't outscored Duke when he's been on the court. Huge break for the Blue Devils.

Duke 51-45, 12:33: So we might have broken the "no cheering on press row" rule. But how could you not after Henderson's Sportscenter Top-10 highlight? He took the ball from the left corner, drove and dunked while getting hit by Clint Chapman. Henderson completed the and-one and while a couple of sloppy mistakes have prevented the game from breaking completely open, the past three minutes have definitely been better than the opening five. Pittman has three fouls now and Duke has found no answer short of double-teaming him before he gets the ball and leaving the lane wide open. How many minutes he plays will be something to keep an eye on.

Duke 43-41, 14:58 2nd Half: The Longhorns have closed the gap to only two behind an Abrams 3-pointer and solid play from James, who Mike Krzyzewski compared to the inside-out Singler before the game. At the 16:20 mark, James sank a three when Thomas as slow getting out to him on the perimeter, and after a turnover on the Blue Devils' end, James finished on a fast-break, drawing a cheer from the Carolina-heavy crowd. Henderson responded with his own fancy finger-roll, but Duke somehow lost track of Balbay on the next possession, who found an unimpeded path to the basket.

Duke 36-29, HALFTIME: But then again, it just wouldn't be Henderson without a signature "I'm going to destroy everyone on this drive" moment would it? The junior explodes from the left elbow past Damion James and goes in for the reverse layup, all the while looking like no one would have a prayer of stopping him. Nolan Smith capped the half with an open jumper and the Blue Devils enter with a seven point lead. Lest we forget, though, it was almost this exact score last year when West Virginia destroyed Duke in the second half. We opened up by saying stopping Abrams was key, but aside from a couple of good shots, he hasn't been heard from much. Stopping Pittman from gobbling up rebounds down low will be more pertinent to second-half success as Texas is dominating the boards. The stats say the Longhorns have only two more rebounds, but it definitely has the feel of Texas utilizing its chances more. Henderson is 4-of-12 from the field for 11 points, all of those coming from either 2-pointers or free throws, and he's the only one in double figures for either team.

Key stats:

  • FG percentage: Duke 43.3%, Texas 45.5%
  • 3FG percentage: Duke 50.0% (3-of-6), Texas 16.7% (1-of-6)
  • Assists: Duke 4, Texas 3
  • Rebounds: Duke 15, Texas 17
  • Turnovers: Duke 4, Texas 9
  • Leading scorers: Henderson 11, Smith 9; Abrams 9, James 8

Duke 32-27, 1:11 1st Half: We couldn't have gone an entire period without a Henderson attempting-to-draw-a-foul-on-a-jumper-but-failing, could we? It's becoming somewhat of a bad habit, and Henderson just doesn't have Scheyer's experience and skill doing it.

Duke 26-21, 3:43 1st Half: One of the Texas fans behind us hasn't been shy, constantly reminding Varez Ward to "make [Henderson] go left!" It's been effective for the most part, but Ward, who's been on Henderson, picked up his second foul with 5:50 to go in the first period (Henderson has only seven points, with many of them coming from the free throw line). In other news, we have Duke football coach David Cutcliffe in the house today.

Duke 22-14, 7:11 1st Half: The referees have decided to show up, whistling at least six fouls in the past three minutes. This has actually gone both ways, with each team picking up an offensive foul and two defensive fouls. Henderson has hit a cold slump, missing his last four shots. A timely three by Scheyer  and tight defense on the other end have kept the Blue Devils in front though. Plus, Brian Zoubek is doing more than just traveling on offense--he's actually grabbed two rebounds and played solid defense on Pittman (though he was called for an offensive foul on a moving screen, so there's still that little problem).

Duke 16-12, 11:11 1st Half: The good news is, Henderson and Singler seem to have their jumpers going early, which is always a good sign for Duke. The bad? Duke looks a little lost on offense when Henderson's not on the floor. Nolan Smith's attempt might have been deflected by a Texas defender, and Elliot Williams tried a driving layup which came off just a little too strong.

Of note on the defensive end: We're not likely to see Greg Paulus on Abrams much longer, as the oft-maligned Duke point guard was burned by the quicker Abrams who made his way easily to the basket around Paulus.

Duke 8-6, 15:35 1st Half: Texas has a height--and a huge size--advantage in just one position. But it certainly fed off of the productivity of Dexter Pittman, who produced four of the Longhorns' six points. Once he left, however, the lane for points suddenly opened up and grabbing rebounds suddenly doesn't feel like fighting a black hole. Still early though, as one development to note is Lance Thomas has picked up two fouls already.

Pregame: The starting lineups-- for Duke: Kyle Singler, Gerald Henderson, Elliot Williams, Jon Scheyer, and Lance Thomas. for Texas: A.J. Abrams, Dogus Balbay, Damion James, Justin Mason, and the hefty Dexter Pittman.

Pregame: And so it begins. Duke, making its appearance onto the floor, is greeted by a resounding chorus of boos, and Texas follows right behind, much to the delight of the Carolina fans still basking in their their team's victory. Don't expect it to get much better. Duke can only hope for a repeat of Thursday, when the Carolina fans who'd stuck around in the hopes of witnessing the unlikely upset began filing out after the Blue Devils' quick run after halftime.

Pregame: Greetings from Greensboro as we get you ready for a night of NCAA madness that can hopefully live up to this afternoon's games. For the longest time, it seemed as if LSU might hang around long enough to pull the big one and stun North Carolina--but alas, Ed Davis has just slammed the ball wide-open to put the Tar Heels up by 15 with 2:14 left, meaning Duke fans will have to wait another week to relish in their rivals' collapse. Shortly after this, Duke and Texas will step onto the court to lock up one of the last two Sweet 16 bids of the day. Containing A.J. Abrams will be a large factor in how Duke performs--are Elliot Williams and company up to the task? If so, they'll also have to contend with a crowd that is probably 90 percent pro-UNC and only about a section and a half worth of Duke fans. As Coach K said, "Duke and Texas. That's not a matchup you expect to see in the round of 32." Let's hope it plays out just like that.


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