No. 2 seed Duke will take its talents to Indianapolis next weekend after outlasting No. 7 seed Creighton Sunday night 66-50 to win its 2000th game in program history. Foul trouble plagued the Blue Devils much of the game, but a strong defensive performance held the Bluejays in check and punched Duke's ticket to the Sweet 16.
Revisiting the three keys to the game:
- Slowing down Doug: The Blue Devils did a good job harassing McDermott and not letting the nation's second leading scorer get comfortable from the field. McDermott shot just 4-of-16 from the floor, but was automatic at the charity stripe, making all 12 of his free throws. McDermott ended the night with 21 points.
- Owning the glass: Though rebounding has been a problem for Duke this season, Sunday night the Blue Devils won the battle on the boards, out-rebounding the Bluejays 36-30. It was a balanced rebounding effort for Duke, as no player had more rebounds than Tyler Thornton, who had six.
- Cook keeps cooking: Cook didn't shoot the ball well Sunday, but distributed six assists. The sophomore floor general's passing was on point in Philadelphia after his assist totals dipped through the end of the ACC season. His floor vision and passing ability will be very important for Duke if it wants to advance beyond the Sweet 16.
Three key plays:
- 0:01, first half. With five seconds left in the half, Josh Hairston grabbed the rebound off of a Jahenns Manigat missed three pointer and threw the outlet pass to Tyler Thornton. The junior guard nearly lost his dribble, but found his handle, elevated, contorted his body, and knocked down the buzzer-beating 3-pointer. Thornton had six first half points and gave the Blue Devils a 29-23 lead heading into the locker room.
- 17:48, second half. Foul trouble was a problem for Duke all night, but it reached a new level after Mason Plumlee picked up his fourth personal a little more than two minutes into the second half. Plumlee was playing well before his foul trouble, scoring eight points and grabbing five rebounds. Josh Hairston and Ryan Kelly both picked up their fourth fouls within five minutes of Plumlee's foul.
- 4:17, second half. Rasheed Sulaimon hit a three-pointer from well beyond the arc to push Duke's lead to 12. Sulaimon was great for the Blue Devils Sunday, scoring 21 points and drilling three 3-pointers. The Duke lead never dipped below 10 after Sulaimon's triple.
Three key stats:
- Creighton shot 30.2 percent from the field. The Bluejays led the nation in field goal percentage this season, shooting 50.8 percent from the floor. Sunday night was a totally different story. Creighton also made just two of 19 3-point attempts. The inability to hit big threes played a huge role in the Blue Devils' ability to retain the lead throughout the second half.
- One point for Ryan Kelly. Kelly could not buy a field goal Sunday, missing all five of his attempts from the floor. The senior forward has now scored in single digits each of his previous four games. In fact, the 25 points he has combined in his past four games is 11 points fewer than he scored against Miami in his first game back from his 13-game layoff.
- Zero field g0als for Doug McDermott after the 5:26 mark of the first half. McDermott could not get comfortable all night. The Bluejays' leading scorer made just four of his 16 field goals, but was adept at getting to the line, hitting all 12 of his free throws. Ryan Kelly, Mason Plumlee, Amile Jefferson, and Tyler Thornton all had a hand in giving McDermott fits all night.
And the Duke game ball goes to...Rasheed Sulaimon. Sulaimon has been fantastic for the Blue Devils since the ACC tournament loss to Maryland. Sulaimon lead the Blue Devils with 21 points on 5-of-9 shooting—3-for-5 from beyond the arc. Sulaimon added eight free throws and five rebounds to his final stat line.
And the Creighton game ball goes to...Doug McDermott. The player who has become synonymous with Creighton basketball was an easy choice for the game ball. Even though he failed to make a single field goal in the second half, he was the only player to reach double figures for the Bluejays. He scored 21 of Creighton's 50 points.
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