LIVE BLOG: Duke 68, California 53 FINAL

Duke 68, California 49 1:35 2nd Half: As the Blue Devil mascot hugs a fan with a "North Dakota Loves Duke" sign, Nolan Smith scores his 20th point of the contest to all but put the game out of reach. Zoubek remains intense on the defensive end, though, eliciting an audible scream as he comes out to defend an open jump-shooter. As Cal goes to the free throw line, Zoubek is taken out of the game to one of the loudest ovations from the Duke faithful yet this weekend, and Ryan Kelly and (gasp!) Andre Dawkins enter the game in garbage time.

Boykin puts down a rather emphatic dunk (especially given the circumstances) for his 12th and 13th points of the night, but fouls Singler to send him to the line. This one is all but over, so we're going to check out and prepare to go to the post-game press conference. More to come here and at tomorrow morning.

Duke 64, California 45 3:06 2nd Half: As we head down the stretch, the contingent of Duke fans behind the Blue Devil bench try to start the Lets Go Duke chant, but to no avail, as Kyle Singler misses the front end of a one-and-one. On the next Duke possession, though, Singler is fouled on a three point attempt, sending Singler back to the line for three shots, two of which he makes. On the other end of the floor, Zoubek commits a now-uncharacteristic reach-in foul, sending Sanders-frison back to the line for his own one-and-one. The first shot bounces off the back iron, and although Cal grabs the offensive board they are unable to convert, and Zoubek grabs the rebound. Singler responds by taking the ball to the hole for his 14th and 15th points of the night, and Sanders-Frank commits his fourth foul on the offensive end of the court, sending Zoubek to the line to perhaps extend Duke's lead to its largest of the night.

Zoubek does by making one-of-two free throws, and even grabs his own offensive rebound on the second shot, sending Duke back into stall-ball mode on the offensive end. Sanders-Frison picks up his fifth foul for being a little too physical with Zoubek down low, and Max Zhang reenters the game for the first time in this half for the now disqualified Sanders-Frison. Zoubek returns to the line for the double bonus, and once again makes one of two.

California turns it over again on the baseline, and Duke once again deicides to waste as much of the shot-clock as it can before Smith penetrates and dishes to Zoubek for a rare, and rather emphatic, dunk by the 7-foot-1 senior. Zoubek now has 14 points and 12 rebounds in the contest, and is actually listed as Duke's "Top Performer" on the boxscore. As we head into the final media-timeout, Duke has grabbed a 19 point lead and look to be securely in control of this one as fans file out of Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena for the last time this weekend.

Duke 56, California 45 6:35 2nd Half: Out of the timeout, Cal's inbounds pass is intercepted by Scheyer, who quickly passes it to Smith who sinks an and-one layup, much to the excitement of Scheyer, who emphatically congratulates his backcourt mate. But after Smith misses the free throw, Lance Thomas saves it from going out of bounds, and Zoubek tips it out to Singler who converts the layup. All of a sudden, Duke is up 15. (Interesting to note that the only two players to not stand up on the Duke bench after that last possession were Ryan Kelly and Andre Dawkins...)

Duke stops the Golden Bears, and then Robertson picks up his fourth foul on the defensive end. Scheyer proceeds to airball a three, although he certainly seemed to think he was fouled, and now finally Dawkins gets up off the bench and prepares to check into the contest. The crod once again boos as a Randle layup is wiped out by an offensive foul (I believe a moving screen), and Dawkins checks in for Scheyer.

On the offensive end, Zoubek gets all but mugged by his defender, but nothing is called, leading to a Duke turnover (makeup call, perhaps?).  Cal regains possession but Randle is packed by Zoubek, although Boykin picks up the rebound and makes the put-back while also being fouled by Thomas. Boykin makes the free throw, and Scheyer is quickly back into the lineup, replacing Dawkins after less then a minute of action for the freshman. I'm slightly nervous about the look of dejection on Dawkins' face after being pulled so quickly.

Scheyer draws another touch foul, and will go to the line for the bonus. Interesting how neither team reached the bonus in the first half, yet Duke is in the bonus now with more than nine minutes left in the second half. Inconsistent reffing will drive a coach crazy... but regardless, Scheyer makes both, although Sanders-Frison answers with an open layup on the other end.

Singler, though, finally makes a jump-shot, this one of the turnaround variety right over his shorter defender. Another touch foul is called, this time on Scheyer, and Miles Plumlee comes into replace Zoubek as a Cal player lies injured on the floor. It appears Gutierrez tweaked his ankle or knee after that last play, but he is able to walk off the court under his own power after a slight delay.

Plumlee immediately contributes on the defensive end with a slight block, although Thomas picks up another iffy foul call, sending Cal to the line for the one-and-one. Sanders-Frison makes one-of-two, and Duke is unable to answer as they go into what looks like a stall-ball offense with almost eight minutes still to go in this contest. The same holds on the next possession, as Scheyer runs the clock down to five seconds before hoisting a long and contested three that goes in and out. The Golden Bears answer on the offensive end, and the lead is down to eleven as we head into another media-timeout.

Duke 48, California 37 11:32 2nd Half: Cal is finally able to get some offensive rebounds, and Boykin converts two lower Duke's lead to seven. After a prolonged and sloppy possession, Zoubek bails out the Blue Devils with a tip in where it seemed as if Zoubek was the only one within ten feet of the basket. Randle almost answers, but his fancy layup falls just short, and Zoubek answers with another easy layup over a shorter defender off of a nice pass from Thomas. A Smith foul takes us into another media-timeout, as back-to-back buckets by Zoubek have given the Blue Devils a double digit lead once again.

Guess what?  It's Cascada time!

Duke 44, California 35 13:41 2nd Half: Despite a cold-shooting night from both Scheyer and Singler, Andrew Dawkins is still conspicuously languishing on the bench, as the Plumlee brothers reenter the game. Miles gets an open elbow jumper immediately byt it rims out, although the sophomore redeems himself with a defensive rebound on the subsequent Golden Bear possession. But another Scheyer jumper falls short on offense, and then Singler clanks an open trey off of the back rim. Indeed, Duke's shooting is certainly not up to par thus far in the contest, as we head into the media-timeout with Duke still up nine.

Duke 44, California 35 15:03 2nd Half: Duke starts the half of inauspiciously, as Smith violates the cardinal rule by fouling (quite blatantly) a jump shooter, giving Cal a quick two points. After a Singler three doesn't stay in the rim, Robertson scorse in transition, and it's very quickly a 10 point game. As has been the case all night, though, Smith answers with a pump-fake, step-back three for the Blue Devils.

Lance Thomas is playing great defense on Gutierrez down low, and Zoubek grabs another rebound on defense. Zoubek is then bear-hugged by Boykin as he gets the pass in the paint, and after the foul Singler proceeds to put back an errant jump shot for his seventh point. Scheyer, though, picks up his own foul on the defensive end, sending Gutierrez to the line, where he sinks both free throws (despite a rather intimidating "Jorge! Jorge!" chant from the band.)

The upset-craving crow dis rather upset with the referees, after a ball that appeared to go off of Kyle Singler out of bounds was returned to the Blue Devils, a possible Thomas charge was called a block, and then Robertson was called for a ticky-tack foul. Smith takes advantage with a filthy cross-over that elicits an audible "Oh!" from the crowd, extending the lead back up to 15.

Randle, though, answers with a contested, fade-away three pointer to stem the tide, and Scheyer is unable to answer after a Thomas offensive board gave him another wide-open three that was left short. The teams go quickly back and forth with no results until Robinson nails a transition trey, and Coach K calls timeout after seeing his lead dwindle to nine points.

Duke 37, California 24 20:00 2nd Half: Interesting first half stats: Duke shot 50% from the field, despite Jon Scheyer only going 1-for-7, including 1-for-5 from three. Between the two of them, Miles Plumlee and Brian Zoubek shot 6-for-6 and had 12 points in a total of 20 minutes of action (not bad for basically one half out of your center slot, no?).  California committed seven turnovers to Duke's three, and Duke had eight assists to Cal's three. In short, Duke is playing better defense and running its offense more efficiently—a good recipe for a victory. Five minutes until the second half commences.

Duke 37, California 24 0:00 1st Half: The Blue Devil mascot is trying to elicit a Let's Go Duke chant from the crowd, which gets a rather halfhearted response. Not halfhearted, though, is the Cornell band's assistance to Duke's band in starting a mini-wave that distracts the Cal free-throw shooter (nice to see those Ivy leaguers show some appreciation for the Duke band's support of their upset win over Wisconsin), and he only makes one of two.

On the offensive end, Duke continues to dominate the glass after another offensive board by Thomas, and he is quickly repaid with an easy layup after an open cut through the paint. Cal turns it over again as Gutierrez dribbles it out of bounds off an offensive rebound, and Duke draws a foul of its own on the offensive end on Christopher. It is only team foul number five, though (Duke only has three) in what has been a very loosely officiated game. Scheyer makes both free throws to extend Duke's lead to 15.

On the defensive end, Miles Plumlee shows how high he can jump—unfortunately, it results in a free basket for the Golden Bears off of the goaltending call. Plumlee makes up for his error by setting a nice pick for Scheyer, who misses another open trey—he just doesn't seem comfortable today, as he can't seem to get set when he takes his jumper.

Of course as soon as I mention how loosely the refs are calling this game, Plumlee is called for a ticky-tack foul down low, leading to a free Cal possession and two points. After Singler almost looses the ball on offense, though, he recovers and dishes for an alley-oop layup to Plumlee, who now has six points in the first half. As Duke fans rise to their feet, the Blue Devils shut down Cal on their last possession of the half, and head into the locker room with a 13 point lead. It hasn't necessarily been pretty, but Coach K must be happy with his teams defensive effort, as well as the contributions both Plumlee's have given off the bench. However, Andre Dawkins has not seen time yet this game, and the Big Three each played all twenty minutes of this half—just something to keep an eye on.

More after halftime.

Duke 31, California 19 3:04 1st Half: If you're the Twitter type (did you see my fancy alliteration there?) you can now follow my periodic live-tweets

Cal takes over after their timeout and runs a much smoother offensive possession, drawing another Zoubek foul (his second), and Cal will go to the line after another media time-out.

Duke 31, California 19 3:25 1st Half: Miles and Mason Plumlee reenter the game for the Blue Devils, but the Big Three all remain on the court—meaning Andre Dawkins has yet to see any playing time this contest.  Also in for the first time is 7-foot-3 Max Zhang for Cal, who had the ball in his hands when Cal commits a shot clock violation, immediately contributing to the game. More importantly, though, Randle seems slightly hobbled after that last defensive possession, but stays in the game... something to keep an eye on.

Duke, though, officially has claimed momentum after what was quite possibly the best dunk of the year for the blue Devils, as Miles Plumlee converted a reverse alley-oop off of a perfect lob from Smith after the sophomore was wide open by the net after setting a screen. Plumlee contributes immediately on the defensive end as well with a rebound, and Smith puts in a free-throw line jumper to extend Duke's lead to nine, its biggest of the night.

Christopher, though, answers right back with a jumper of his own, cutting the lead back to seven. Singler, though, extends the lead once again with a trey, and Duke is up ten. An errant Boykin reverse layup turns into an errant transition trey from Scheyer, which is answered by Randle's own errant transition three. California, though, maintains possession on the out of bounds, and the Duke faithful give the Plumlee brothers a nice ovation as Zoubek and Thomas reenter the game.

A frustrated Cal fan just exclaimed "Pass the Ball!" from the stands behind me, and indeed Cal's offense has devolved into a series of one-on-one takes or forced jumpers. Duke, though, hasn't been able to take advantage in transition, and Scheyer's cold shooting continues with another missed three. Once again, though, a one-on-one take, this time leading to a fade away jumper by Robertson, goes begging, and Zoubek answers on the other end with a rather athletic put-back that puts Duke up 12. California calls timeout, Zoubek howls in excitement as he heads back to the bench, and Duke seems to have quickly seized hold of the momentum in this contest.

Duke 22, California 17 7:52 1st Half: Right out of the break, Duke goes to its advantage down low, and Zoubek converts on what is quickly becoming an NBA-quality post move (I'm just speculating...).  But Cal answers on the other end to keep it at a five point game. On the other end of the court, an errant Singler drive leads to a turnover, and a rather violent screen by California (which has Coach K enraged) leads to another easy layup for Randle.

Things don't get any better for Duke on the offensive end, as a Scheyer trey goes begging (it seemed even he was surprised by how open he was), and Zoubek is called for an over-the-back foul going for the offensive board. Patrick Christopher's own trey is short, and Duke extends the lead back to five after Singler gets great position under the basket and easily lays it in for two. After a few eventless posessions, Theo Robertson converts a jumper in the paint to cut the lead back down to three, but on their next possession dribbles it off his foot and into Scheyer's arms for yet another turnover. Smith takes advantage, abusing his man yet again for an easy layup. Zoubek dives on the court for a loose ball on defense, and Duke has possession heading into another media-timeout.

Duke 16, California 11 11:51 1st Half: Cal has possession out of the media-timeout, but a baseline jumper from Boykin goes begging. Miles and Mason Plumlee are now in the game for Duke, and Miles makes his impact immediately felt with yet another offensive rebound for the Blue Devils, followed by a long jumper for two. Randle, though, answers by juking left, then right, then nailing a three point jumper right in the elder Plumlee's face. Not to be outdone, Scheyer does much of the same on the opposite end of the court with a three of his own, before Boykin makes a baseline jumper to tie the score back up.

This game is quickly becoming an offensive shootout, as Smith nails a baseline jumper and then draws a blocking foul (which was dangerously close to a charge) on the next Duke possession. Smith makes one of two to put Duke up four.

Duke's defense continues to force turnovers, as Scheyer strips the ball from Boykin just as he was setting up for another baseline jumper, and the ex-Blue Devil is unable to save the ball from going out of bounds despite a valiant effort. Duke converts on the offensive end, as a nice drop -ass from Singler leads to an uncontested Mason Plumlee dunk.

Once again, Duke's defensive pressure has forced a turnover, as Markhuri Sanders-Frison (yet another candidate for name of the weekend) throws the ball out of bounds as we head into another media timeout with Duke back on top by five.

Duke 6, California 6 15:21 1st Half: Duke controls the opening tip, and we're underway in Jacksonville, with Nolan Smith missing a long two-point jumper to begin the game for the Blue Devils. Quickly there is a break in the action as a Cal player was bleeding from his eye, but Duke stays solid on defense, forcing a contested shot by 5-foot-10 guard Jerome Randle. Brian Zoubek pulls down the rebound and gets fouled, much to the chagrin of a crowd that is clearly pulling for the upset here. Smith, though, is unfazed and scored the first points of the contest on a nice dribble-drive to the basket.

Duke's defense continues its momentum from Friday night, as a combination of Zoubek and Kyle Singler create a steal on the defensive end. Duke feeds Lance Thomas in the post down low, and Zoubek puts up an easy layup on the put-back to put Duke up four. Duke quickly regains possession after another Cal turnover—this one a travel—but after an offensive rebound extended the Blue Devils' offensive possession Thomas threw an errant pass to Jon Scheyer out of bounds, and the Golden Bears will take over once again.

After some tough defense from Singler forced a much shorter Jorge Gutierrez into an ill-advised airball, Smith converts on the fast break. Former Blue Devil Jamal Boykin answers for Cal, however, with a mid-range jumper over the outstretched arm of Zoubek to give the Golden Bears their first points of the contest.

On the other end of the floor, Scheyer sets up Thomas for an open elbow jumper that just won't stay down, and Randle answers with a sweet juke that leads to two points. After Duke comes up short on offense yet again, Gutierrez takes it to the hole over Smith to tie the score at six.

In what is quickly becoming a very fast-paced game, Scheyer commits an uncharacteristic turnover, as the ball goes off his leg out of bounds, as we head into the first media timeout in a tie game.

PREGAME: Starters for Cal: Theo Robertson, Jamal Boykin, Patrick Christopher, Jorge Gutierrez, and Jerome Randle. If you don't know who's starting for Duke by now, then you shouldn't be bothering reading this blog. We're about to get underway.

PREGAME: Did you miss me folks?  It isn't like my last post on this blog was, oh, two minutes ago, right?

We're just under 23 minutes until tip-off of Duke's 2nd Round matchup against California, with the winner earning a trip to the Sweet 16 in Houston. The Blue Devils will be facing off against former transfer Jamal Boykin for the first time since he left Durham after his freshman year. The senior will start for the Golden Bears (Golden Lions, and Tigers, and Golden Bears, oh my!), but the 6-foot-8 forward will be California's tallest starter. Look for Duke to try to set the tone down low early with Brian Zoubek and Lance Thomas, just as they did Friday against Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

More in a bit.


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