TOUGH AS NAILS: McCain breaks single-game 3-point record to send Duke past James Madison, into Sweet 16

Freshman guard Jared McCain jogs back after draining one of his eight 3-pointers in Duke's Round of 32 domination of James Madison.
Freshman guard Jared McCain jogs back after draining one of his eight 3-pointers in Duke's Round of 32 domination of James Madison.

BROOKLYN, N.Y.—Coming into Sunday night’s matchup, the odds seemed to be stacked against Duke. The Barclays Center was roaring like an away-game crowd, and fans prepared for a potential upset. Yet 40 minutes later, the entire country learned one thing — don’t bet against the Blue Devils.

No. 4-seed Duke trounced No. 12-seed James Madison with a 93-55 victory in the Round of 32 in the NCAA tournament. Freshman guard Jared McCain led the way for the Blue Devils with a monstrous 30 points on 10-of-15 shooting. He was bolstered by sophomore guard Tyrese Proctor, who went 4-of-10 from beyond the arc for 18 points. After exiting at this time a year earlier against Tennessee, Duke finally has its revenge — and a spot in the Sweet 16.

"Just really...proud of our team," said head coach Jon Scheyer. "I just thought our guys came out with such a great competitiveness, and they were obviously ready to play."

The second half got off to an inauspicious start as a Kyle Filipowski turnover led to a layup by Terrence Edwards Jr. on the other end of the floor. It was no matter, as McCain quickly turned things around with his seventh triple of the contest, tying the program record for threes by any player in an NCAA tournament game with Blue Devil legend Quinn Cook.

The Blue Devil train was quickly rolling again as Duke continued to build up their lead. Filipowski got the and-one after a steal from Jeremy Roach to send the Blue Devils on a 6-2 run to open the second 20 minutes of play. Proctor got in on the action soon after with a triple of his own. Less than four minutes into the half, Duke had made 10 treys in the game.

James Madison, for its part, started to get comfortable on the floor. Graduate guard Michael Green III drained a three at the 15:52 mark, followed by an Edwards driving layup soon after. However, the Blue Devils were with them every step of the way. The highlight of the half came with 11:59 left on the clock. McCain caught a pass from classmate Sean Stewart at his favorite place — behind the arc. The Californian made his eighth three of the contest to set the new program record for most triples in a NCAA tournament game. 

"I feel like every game, I'm always ready to see if I'm gonna go off," said McCain. "I work so hard and I'm just prepared for every [contest]."

Filipowski put a tiny damper on the party shortly after, racking up his fourth personal foul with 10:44 left to play. Proctor brightened things up, however, by putting back yet another shot from three. Roach followed suit with a triple of his own to make it 74-46. 

Duke was on fire from the opening tip as McCain kicked things off with a three after Filipowski was double-teamed inside. Things only heated up from there, as senior guard Jeremy Roach executed a flawless pull-up jumper. It was 5-2 Duke just over a minute into the game.

On the defensive end, the Blue Devils were locked in early. Filipowski, continuing his efforts from Friday night, stole the ball off a bad pass from graduate forward T.J. Bickerstaff. He got another steal less than a minute later, which quickly turned into an offensive opportunity. The ball found its way into Roach’s hands, but the Leesburg, Va., native missed the layup. Filipowski got the offensive rebound and dunked the ball to get the Barclays Center fans on their feet.

"Having that trust and faith in one another...that really just gets the momentum flowing in our favor," said Filipowski.

Duke then hit a rough patch. A second-chance layup from Raekwon Horton ended the Dukes’ dry spell. Seconds later, the Blue Devils were called for a rare backcourt violation. James Madison got the ball and Roach stepped in to defend as Horton went up for a defensive rebound. The contact caused a hand injury that sent him toward the bench, clearly in pain. 

Looking to avenge its captain, Duke executed with precision. Proctor nailed back-to-back threes to put the Blue Devils up 21-9 before McCain, once again, took control. He stole the ball from freshman forward Jaylen Carey on the defensive end and pulled up effortlessly for a three, his fourth of the game. The freshman was simply electric from the floor, pulling off a no-look dish to Filipowski, who slammed it down for a dunk. McCain drained a three on the next possession, tying Duke’s freshman record for most threes made in an NCAA tournament game.

At the 2:27 mark, the Sacramento, Calif., native made history. After grabbing the defensive rebound, McCain got to the other end of the floor. Proctor found him beyond the arc, and the guard calmly shot the ball. The sixth swish from beyond the arc of the night for the freshman guard set a new record for future Duke freshmen to chase. He accumulated 22 points on the half as a whole, the most by any player in the tournament thus far.

"It's the best feeling in the world when you know the work you put in is showing up on the court, especially in such a big game like this," said McCain.

While the Dukes were quiet for much of the half, they found some success in the twilight of the first 20 minutes. They got the last laugh before the halftime locker room as redshirt senior Noah Freidel converted the driving layup off the fast break. However, it seemed to be too little, too late for James Madison as it exited the court with the largest deficit it had seen all season at the halfway point.

With the victory, the Blue Devils will travel to Dallas to face off against No. 1-seed Houston in the Sweet 16.

Mackenzie Sheehy profile
Mackenzie Sheehy | Blue Zone editor

Mackenzie Sheehy is a Trinity sophomore and Blue Zone editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.


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