Proctor, Mitchell drag No. 12 Duke men's basketball through grudge match at Louisville to resume winning ways

Sophomore Tyrese Proctor (5) puts up a contested three against Pittsburgh.
Sophomore Tyrese Proctor (5) puts up a contested three against Pittsburgh.

Hot browns — a greasy, meaty mix of bread, cheese, tomatoes, bacon and turkey invented at the restaurant of a local hotel — are a Louisville staple.

In many ways, No. 12 Duke’s clunky performance against the struggling Cardinals Tuesday night resembled how one feels after consuming a hot brown — short on breathing room. But the Blue Devils ultimately found a way to overcome their discomfort, emerging from the KFC Yum! Center with an important 83-69 victory that restarts their ACC winning run.

"Really good to get that win," said head coach Jon Scheyer postgame. "For our team, we've played through a pretty good amount of adversity these last three games and you feel game pressure, you have to play with different lineups, Jeremy [Roach's] injury happens. And for us to really step up collectively and get that win, I'm proud of the team."

From the jump in the second half, the home squad made sure that Duke (14-4, 5-2 in the ACC) would have no cakewalk in resuming its winning run. It took almost two-and-a-half minutes for the Blue Devils to tally a score out of the locker room, turning an advantage that at one point stretched as far as 18 points into just six as the Cardinals (6-13, 1-7) drew fouls and sank some important buckets on the turnover.

Louisville kept its lethal streak alive and continued to swipe at the Blue Devils’ knees. In particular, sophomore center Kyle Filipowski struggled to make his usual impact, being frustrated by stout Cardinal defense down low that slammed shut his usual lanes to the basket. He also found some trouble with the referees, being called multiple times for some overly physical play on both the defensive and offensive ends. The Blue Devils’ difficulties were compounded as the Cardinals entered the bonus with more than nine minutes to go and the double bonus a minute later.

Louisville failed to make the most of this advantage, however, shooting an unremarkable 16-for-24 compared to the visitors’ 16-for-22 mark.

"I really wasn't talking much offense," Scheyer said of Louisville's run. "And I thought we let them live in our paint too easily. Some of it's because they can get downhill and they're good players, of course. We just had to have more resistance."

In Filipowski’s scoring stead, Duke turned to the guard duo of Jared McCain and Tyrese Proctor, who connected on a pair of free throws and a 3-pointer, respectively, to stanch the bleeding. Sophomore forward Mark Mitchell took a feed and power-dribbled his way to an unguarded slam shortly after, bringing the Blue Devils back to a 54-46 lead. 

The Proctor-induced jolt, which culminated in a career-high 24 points by game’s end, was a similar and needed breath of fresh air to that of when Duke was struggling in the first half with the Cardinals’ vigor.

"For Tyrese, he's gone through some adversity this season, maybe not playing as well as he would like at times," Scheyer said. "And for him to come back and respond from this last game the way he did, 24 points, he had I thought just a great look the whole time and gave us poise [and] confidence. I love the way he shot the ball."

Despite leading by 11 at halftime, Blue Devils were by no means fluid to open the contest. When the Australia native, replaced by freshman Caleb Foster in the starting lineup, made his debut, though, his impact was immediate. He hit a feed to Filipowski right away, followed by a couple quick buckets and a beautiful round-the-world triple to steal the lead. He continued to catch fire as the half wore on, particularly as a playmaker, including a hyper-aware backward pass to Roach on the wing for the senior’s first points of the night.

Good things come in pairs, apparently, and seeing his backcourt buddy find some form inspired the two-year captain to find some of his own, too. But after landing awkwardly on the foot of a Louisville player fighting for a ball headed out of bounds, the senior clutched his ankle and limped off the court toward the locker room, returning to the bench and then the floor soon thereafter. By the close of the opening period, Roach had hit double-digits in points and had a trio of assists, but saw limited time in the second frame as he struggled with the lingering effects of his rolled ankle.

Another key returnee was Mitchell, who showed exactly what the Blue Devils were missing in a difficult home win against Georgia Tech and loss to Pittsburgh over the weekend. The Kansas City, Kan., native caused all sorts of problems with his athleticism and intelligent positioning inside, shooting perfectly from the floor and grabbing five rebounds in the first half alone.

But it wasn’t smooth sailing, and after Mitchell opened up the scoring for the visitors with a couple quick makes from inside, it was the Cardinals who took the early upper hand. Successive threes from Skyy Clarke and Curtis Williams from the near corner punctuated an efficient start. McCain, Filipowski and Proctor quickly combined to calm Blue Devil nerves and take a five-point lead, which forced a Louisville timeout.

Up next for Duke is a return home to Cameron Indoor Stadium, where it will take on Clemson Saturday afternoon.


Andrew Long profile
Andrew Long | Recruitment/Social Chair

Andrew Long is a Trinity junior and recruitment/social chair of The Chronicle's 120th volume. He was previously sports editor for Volume 119.

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