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And one: Roach-led Duke men's basketball defeats Texas Tech in Sweet 16 with dominant finish

Sophomore guard Jeremy Roach catalyzed the offense down the stretch again, scoring 15 points.
Sophomore guard Jeremy Roach catalyzed the offense down the stretch again, scoring 15 points.

After each Duke men's basketball game this season, check back here for the Player of the Game and more. Today, the Blue Zone breaks down the Blue Devils’ 78-73 win against Texas Tech to advance to the Elite Eight:

One player: Jeremy Roach

Jeremy Roach did it again. The sophomore’s strong tournament play is exactly what Duke needed in the second round against Michigan State and then again against Texas Tech. He scored 11 of his 15 points in the second half, shot a stellar 7-of-11 from the floor and recorded four rebounds and five assists.


What can’t be contained in a stat line is Roach’s effect on the Blue Devils offense. It runs through him. Against a staunch Texas Tech defense, the best that Duke has seen, he found ways to either get the ball in the net himself or pass it off to a teammate who could. The Red Raiders were only allowing near 60 points per game, which the Blue Devils eclipsed easily.

It was also Roach who found a lane through the paint—with just over 10 minutes left and down by two, he took it in himself, made his layup, drew a foul, and drained the and-one free throw. He did it again to regain the lead, without the foul, with three-and-a-half minutes left. While he might not have been Duke’s leading scorer, he drove the offense, and they are heading to the Elite Eight because of it.

One word: Clutch

Thursday's game was another nail biter. Duke and Texas Tech traded baskets for most of the game after the Red Raiders came out firing, racing out to a 10-2 lead. Those first five minutes looked bleak for the Blue Devils, but suddenly, two minutes later, they had tied it back up. That was the story of the game: how Duke refused to quit.

As was the case against Michigan State, the Blue Devils showed the world just how much heart and resilience they really have. They also showed that they can play through pressure. Duke made 15 of its 17 shots from the line. Wendell Moore Jr. and AJ Griffin each drained both of their attempts with less than 30 seconds left. Both of them extended the lead to two possessions, keeping the game out of reach of the scrappy Red Raiders.

One stat: 8-of-8 from the field to close the game

Mark Williams’ missed layup with just under nine minutes left was the last time the Blue Devils would miss a shot. While a few free throws refused to fall, Duke closed out on a perfect 8-of-8 from the field over the closing several minutes of the contest. Four different players contributed to that strong ending, including Paolo Banchero, who drained two threes on a 3-for-4 day from beyond the arc. When it mattered most, they did not miss.

Duke’s newfound ability to close out games had driven them through the tournament thus far. In the final two minutes and eighteen seconds against Michigan State, the Blue Devils regained the lead, recorded two blocks, made seven of his eight free throw attempts and scored 12 points. Even though the game is 40 minutes, it’s those last few that send you packing or earn you a title. Right now, it’s sending Duke to the Elite Eight.

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