Monday, March 29, 2010

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, START YOUR BLUE DEVILS!


Duke is going to Indianapolis, and it’s now quite clear that this version of Blue Devils.2010 is quite different from its predecessors that have taken early exits from the Big Dance.

The primary differences: size, depth, experience and grit.

All were evidenced in Saturday’s heavy-weight match with the big Baylor Bears. The Blue Devils went toe-to-toe with the Big 12 boys and never blinked. Two back-to-back clutch three pointers (one by Nolan Smith and one by the resurging Jon “Crazy Face” Scheyer) turned out to be the 15th round knock-out punches.

Both shots came after Duke’s big men had grabbed offensive rebounds during the late-run that put the Devils out in front to stay and sent them back to the Final Four for the first time since 2003.

The Bears threw a seven-footer, two 6-10s and zone at the Blue Devils, but Coach K’s kids made shots and pulled down an amazing 23 offensive rebounds (17 of those in the second half) against a zone defense designed to position Baylor’s front line to gather in missed shots.

All the while, Kyle “Twilight” Singler did not score an offensive basket – a poorly-timed career first.

Not to worry, Smith scored a career-high 29 points and Scheyer added 20 points (five three-pointers) for Duke (33-5), which became the only No. 1 seed to advance to Indianapolis and earned its 11th Final Four trip under Krzyztlw9ski.

In the national semifinals for the first time since 2004, the Blue Devils will play East Regional champion West Virginia on Saturday night. They have won 11 of their last 12 regional finals under Krzycvbr5ski, but haven't won a national title since 2001.

LaceDarius Dunn had 22 points and Ekpe Udoh scored 18 for the Bears (28-8), whose program was in shambles when coach Scott Drew took over in the wake of murder and scandal less than seven years ago.

Drew took the Bears from tatters to the cusp of their first Final Four appearance in 60 years.

Tweety Carter and Quincy Acy had 12 points each for Baylor at Reliant Stadium (3.5 hours from Baylor), where most of the crowd of 47,492 was dressed in the green and gold of the Bears.

After tying the game for the 12th time on a free throw with 3:36 left, Smith missed his second attempt. But Lance Thomas grabbed the rebound and quickly passed the ball right back to Smith, who nailed a 3-pointer from the right wing to put Duke up 64-61.

As Bill Raftery would say: DAGGER!

Scheyer extended the lead to six with his fifth 3-pointer on the next possession 67-61.

Boom, another DAGGER!

Game over.

To read more click here (GoDuke.com), and/or click here (Raleigh News & Observer).

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