LIVE BLOG: Duke 70, Tulsa 52 FINAL

Duke 66, Tulsa 46 4:01 2nd Half: The "a" in Tulsa! is standing up again, but they certainly don't seem happy.  As the game winds down, Singler sinks a long two to put Duke back up 18, and Duke calls timeout as the Plumlee's reenter the game.  Unless something monumental occurs (ie Zoubek hits a three, Scheyer dunks, or Casey Peters scores) we're going to call it a night here at the Sports Blog.  Be sure to check out tomorrow morning to read our full analysis of tonight's contest.

Duke 62, Tulsa 44 5:23 2nd Half: If it wasn't clear that the story of this game was Brian Zoubek, take the last Duke possession as Exhibit A: the blue Devils actually run a play for Zoubek down low, who schools his counterpart Jordan with a soft turn around hook shot.  And, if you buy now, you'll also receive a defensive rebound (or you can just get Zoubek to do that for you).

With his second straight defensive board, Zoubek now has his double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds, not to mention the numerous baskets he set up in the first half with his picks and inside-outside passing.  For the fourth straight game, Zoubek is showing that Duke is no longer just the Big 3, but rather the Big 3 and a Big Z (can I copyright that?).

With 5:32 to go, Duke is up 18, and my favorite song (sarcasm implied) by Cascada is played, and the Crazies jump up and down as if they're hearing it for the first time (they're not).

Duke 60, Tulsa 42 7:43 2nd Half: Duke returns from the time-out with one of their younger lineups in recent memory, with both Plumlee's and Andre Dawkins on the floor.  The three seem to know the importance of the playing time they're receiving in this game, as they were all chatting quite emphatically before action began anew.

Mason Plumlee, for one, is finally taking advantage of his time, making one free throw and following it up with an emphatic block on the defensive end.

In other news, Coleter "The Goatee" Morgan is back in the game, sporting a bandaid and what looks to be a few stitches over his right eye (the blood on the floor towards the end of the first half must have been his).  His entrance makes little difference, however, and Jordan now has four fouls after fouling Miles Plumlee on a putback attempt.  Mils makes both shots, and the lead is up to a game-high 16.

Meanwhile, the Tulsa fans seem to be recognizing the futility of their efforts at this point.  A group of fans that once spelled Tulsa! with their shirts behind the Golden Hurricane bench now spells only Tuls !, as apparently the "a" has seen enough of this game.

Singler makes two more free throws, and takes a seat after scoring his fifteenth point.  On the other end of the floor, Tulsa turns the ball over again (their eleventh of the contest), but Duke cannot take advantage after a Mason Plumlee put-back is negated by an offensive foul (a legitimate call, as well... even if it does invoke the wrath of the Crazies as expected).  On the next offensive possession Plumlee goes to what is becoming his signature spin-move, but as is also becoming his signature he is unable to sink the subsequent layup.  Still, Duke leads by 18 going into the media time-out.

In other news, this blog is now well over 2500 words.  If you're still reading, well, thanks.

Duke 52, Tulsa 40 11:45 2nd Half: Breaking news, everyone!  Jon Scheyer just made two free throws!  OK, that may be the next dog-bites-man headline, but still, his free throws have given Duke back the double digit lead thanks to the hot temper of Wojcik.

My next sentence was about to highlight the continuation of Singler's sloppy play after another turnover, but after hustling down to court to emphatically pack Uzoh on the fast break, I think the criticism can be delayed for now.  Zoubek, though, just picked up his second foul (one of the more understated factors in his renaissance must be his newfound restraint on defense), and is removed from the game as Uzoh makes only one of two from the line.

Duke's cold shooting, though, has certainly dissipated, as Scheyer hits another three to stretch the lead to 13.  A subsequent Scheyer strip on the defensive end and a pretty post move from Miles Plumlee put Duke up 15.  Between Zoubek, Thomas, and Plumlee, Duke now has 14 points from its bigs, which must be encouraging especially considering Tulsa's size up front with Jordan and the 6-10 Idlet (who has quietly been solid off the bench).

Duke continues to have trouble in the paint defensively, though, as Jordan converts another and-one.  Mason Plumlee nearly sent the Crazies into another frenzy after stealing a lazy Tulsa pass in the backcourt, but a throw-away foul prevented the younger Plumlee from emphatically sending it home.  Instead, Duke will have to be content with going to the line for one-and-one following the media time-out.

Duke 45, Tulsa 36 15:26 2nd Half: Duke doesn't seem to have entered the "eye of the hurricane" yet, though (see, I made a pun!), as Uzoh answers the call after the time-out by sinking a layup while falling to the floor.  Tulsa head coach Doug Wojcik, though, certainly seemed to think that layup should have merited an and-one, because he was (rather quickly, in my opinion) charged a technical, which Duke will shoot following the media time-out.

Duke 45, Tulsa 34 16:01 2nd Half: As we begin the second half, Richard passes the ball in for Tulsa—and the man has one interesting goatee.  He doesn't seem to care, though, as he opens the half with a perfect lob to Jordan for the emphatic alley-oop.  Duke, meanwhile, continues it s sloppy play with a pass of Singler's foot, followed by a missed Scheyer layup, followed by a Singler foul sending Hurtt to the line.  The look on Coach Wojo's face says it all—utter disbelief that this game is close, let alone now tied at 34.

The Crazies, though, recognize their team needs an emotional lift, and gives it to them with a loud chorus of "Lets go Duke."  And when it comes to emotional boosts, who does Duke turn to nowadays?  That's right, folks, Brian Zoubek.  Zoobs answers the call with an and-one bucket, despite missing the subsequent free throw.  The center now has eight points and eight rebounds, which compares very favorably with Jordan's seven points and four rebounds.

Zoubek keeps the momentum going with a steal on the defensive end, leading to a sweet reverse layup by Smith on the offensive end, which the Crazies certainly appreciated.  After an ill-advised Tulsa three went begging, Smith drives it right into the teeth of the Golden Hurricane defense to draw the foul and get two free points from the line.

As the managers clean up a blod spot on the court, Lance Thomas turns to the Crazies and yells "Let's go!"  The Crazies answer with some noise, but the Blue Devils cannot, as Singler is stripped on a drive to the hoop.  Smith, though, continues his hot shooting in this half with a free-throw line jumper to extend the Duke lead to eight, and for an encore steals an errant Tulsa pass on the defensive end.  The subsequent Scheyer three puts Duke up 11, Zoubek urges the crowd to get loud, and Tulsa calls timeout at 16:01 to try to stem the tide.

Duke 34, Tulsa 30 20:00 2nd Half: 1st Half statistics of note: Despite scoring seven points, Nolan Smith did so on 3-of-12 shooting from the field.  Jon Scheyer scored seven point as well—but on 3-of-10 shooting.  Kyle Singler, meanwhile, scored six of his game leading 10 points from the free throw line.  Additionally, despite Duke's rebounding proficiency this season, the Blue Devils are only out-rebounding Tulsa by three, and have allowed 11 offensive boards to the Golden Eagles.

Duke 34, Tulsa 30 0:00 1st Half: Pope fails to convert on the and-one (wonder if he and Bishop Wheatley ever have any interesting religious discussions, hmm?), and Duke quickly retakes the lead with a bucket from Scheyer.  Duke continues to get dominated on the offensive glass, however, as a very long Golden Hurricane possession ends fruitlessly.

After Coach K's traditional end of the first half time out, Zoubek draws a foul on a put-back attempt (and attempts to pump up his teammates in typical Zoubekian fashion).  (Hey, did I just make up a new word?)  Zoubek sinks both free throws, and pumps his fist in to tryt o pump up the Crazies (can we now call it the Zoubek fist-pump instead of the Tiger Woods fist pump?), but Hurtt answers back with a very long two-point jumper.  Singler can not answer in kind on the other end, though, after another solid screen by Zoubek gave the Blue Devils another open jumper.

Duke, though, can thank Richard for having the lead at half: the forward missed everything but the backboard on an uncontested putback, and then committed an idiotic foul to send Singler to the line.  The man with the most famous black-eye in North Carolina makes them both, and Uzoh turns the ball over on Tulsa's final possession.  Duke takes a four point lead into the locker room, and should be thankful to have that after this sloppy half.

Duke 28, Tulsa 28 3:10 1st Half: It continues to be painfully obvious that this is an all-but-meaningless game for the Blue Devils, as their lethargic and sloppy play continues after the media time-out.  The front-court of Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly may be the future for Duke, but for now they are being dominated by Jordan and the experienced Hurricanes—so Coach K has turned once again to Zoubek and Thomas.

That turns out to be a very good decision, as after Tulsa cut the lead down to four, Zoubek answered in the post with a pretty spin move.  Tulsa, though, continues to not be intimidated by the Blue Devils or the gradually louder crazies, as Uzoh makes a crazy and-one jumper to pull Tulsa to within three (I apologize, Duke fans... the only explanation is Uzoh knew I called him out).

After another offensive rebound by the Golden Hurricanes, Bishop Wheatley makes one of two from the line, and it is now only a two point game.  Coach K is not happy with the refs after the Hurricanes seemed to be over the back of Zoubek on the offensive glass, but no call was made, and Tulsa gains possession on the out of bounds.  However, Duke continues to be unable to get anything to fall on offensive, as after a particularly emphatic Lance Thomas rebounds (which very well might have been a travel), a Smith jumper rolls around the rim and out.  The punctuation mark on the bad stretch for Duke—another and-one opportunity for the Golden Hurricanes, and what was supposed to be a tune-up for Duke is now a tie game.

Duke 23, Tulsa 16 7:51 1st Half: Coach K did not seem very pleased during the time-out at his team's efforts in the paint, as Jordan already has five points and three rebounds.  The Blue Devils continue to dominate the offensive glass, however, after another offensive board by Thomas allows Smith to take Uzoh to the hole.  Smith is certainly winning this matchup early on, as the junior has seven points while Tulsa's leading scorer is currently 0-for-3.

Apparently, though, Uzoh could hear me typing... because he just scored his first points of the afternoon on a nice dribble drive.  On the other end of the course, Lance Thomas just hit a pretty jumper from only a few feet inside the three-point line, causing anxious gasps from the Crazies... until the shot went in, that is.

Duke, though, can't pull away from these pesky Hurricanes.  After Smith got blocked twice on one possession, Idlet puts an errant shot back-in to cut the lead to five, and Miles Plumlee missed a completely uncontested alley-oop opportunity off the back rim.  Singler, though, is able to draw the foul and sink two from the charity stripe to put Duke back up seven.

At the under-eight media timeout, Duke's big three are once again leading the way—Smith with seven, and Scheyer and Smith with five each.  Unlike previous contests, however, Duke is also getting some scoring from its bigs, with a basket each from Zoubek, Thomas, and Miles Plumlee.  Still, Duke can not be happy with its effort in the paint, especially on defense, where Jordan continues to be a dominant force.  And while the Blue Devils lead the rebounding war 15-10, Duke has allowed four offensive rebounds to the Golden Hurricanes.

Duke 17, Tulsa 12 11:44 1st Half: Inglet fails to take advantage of the and-1 opportunity, and the game remains tied at four... until Nolan Smith gives the Blue Devils back the lead with a three on a nice penetration and dish by Scheyer.  That was followed by the most impressive looking jump to catch a pass... only to come harmlessly back down to the floor... by Miles Plumlee, who still managed to sink a solid reverse layup to extend Duke's lead.

Coach K certainly seems determined to get everyone playing time today, as Andre Dawkins now checks in.  Zoubek also returns, quickly grabs a defensive board, sets a screen to get Scheyer an open three (which he sinks), grabs another board, and nails a quick turn around layup in the post.  The crowd (predictably) chants ZOUBS, and Tulsa calls a time out to stymie what has become a 10-0 Duke run.

That timeout, however, seems to have motivated Tulsa, as Jordan quickly converts on an and-1 alley-oop (drawing Zoubek's first foul).  Kyle Singler answers with his own put-back and-one (after an ill-advised shot by Mason Plumlee, which Chris Collins is currently discussing with him).  The back-and-forth continues, though, as Hurtt sinks a long jumper which is originally called a three... but the Crazies, ahem, "disagreed," and the men in black and white are now reviewing the call.  It will stand as a three, and the Crazies, um, "disagree" a little more.

Dawkins proceeds to put up his first shot of the game, a solid pull up from just beyond the free throw line, but it goes begging.  He remains in the game, however, as Scheyer reenters and takes out Singler (a fact which seemed to surprise Dawkins slightly).  Jordan, though, is proving to be a force down-low for Tulsa, having just sunk a hook shot over both Zoubek and Lance Thomas.  Duke is clearly the more talented team in this matchup, but Jordan is keeping them in it, at least for now.

Duke 4, Tulsa 4 15:57 1st Half: Besides the 7-foot Jordan, Tulsa is surprisingly short—as my colleague Nick Schwartz put it, "they have four guys who must play the same position."  Indeed, the rest of the Goldern Hurricane starting lineup consists of two 6-6 forwards, a 6-4 guard, and the 6-3 Uzoh.

The first minute of the game has been sloppy at best, highlighted by Brian Zoubek missing two free throws on Duke's first possession.  But he quickly atones with solid defense on Jordan down-low.  Zoubek may not score much, but his defense on Jordan could be the key matchup in this game.

Tulsa scores the first basket of the game off a put-back slam by Joe Richard, but Duke quickly answers with a Scheyer reverse layup.  A sloppy pass by the Golden Hurricanes then resulted in a Nolan Smith steal and emphatic dunk, sending the Crazies into their first frenzy of the evening.  The second would come soon after after Zoubek drew a charge from Richard.

Interestingly enough, Ryan Kelly and Miles Plumlee are the first two off the bench for Duke, replacing Thomas and Zoubek at the 16:30 mark.  Given Kelly's lack of playing time recently, one must wonder whether Coach K is trying to motivate the once five-star recruit heading into the stretch run.

Stephen Idlet, though, quiets the crowd with an and-1 as we head into the first media time-out.  The Blue Devil is hanging ten on the backs of the band.

MORE PREGAME: Duke's starting lineup is as expected: Zoubek, Singler, Smith, Thomas, and Scheyer.  A decent crowd of Crazies in the house on senior-night, although it seems as if the threat of looming midterms has kept many in Perkins rather than in Cameron.  Game is about to get underway.

PREGAME: Welcome, one and all, to a nonconference showdown... in February?  Seem odd?  Well, it shouldn't... Duke traveled to Madison Square Garden to play St. John's last year on February 19.  If you remember, that was the game in which Coach K inserted freshman Elliot Williams into the starting lineup, moving one Jon Scheyer to point guard.  The rest, as they say, is history.  Might we see a similar situation tonight?  Say, a season-saving performance from one of Duke's current freshman, Andrew Dawkins or Mason Plumlee?  Stay tuned.

Don't sleep on Tulsa, though.  The Golden Hurricanes feature 7-foot senior Jerome Jordan, who is considered by many to be a legitimate NBA prospect, as well as senior point guard Ben Uzoh, who is averaging more than 16 points per game this season.


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