Sunday, March 20, 2011

Duke Edges Michigan, Coach K Notches #900

Nolan Smith
Nolan Smith scored 24 points and the top-seeded Blue Devils held their breath as the Wolverines’ last shot clanged off the iron, sealing a 73-71 win Sunday that marked the 900th victory of coach Mike Krzyzewski’s Hall of Fame career.

“The 900, it means that we’re advancing,” Krzyzewski said. “That’s the main thing.”

Kyle Singler added 13 points for the Blue Devils (32-4), who shot 51 percent, never trailed in the second half and advanced to the round of 16 for the 12th time in 14 years. Next stop: Anaheim, Calif., for the West regional semifinals Thursday night.

Parts of this game felt awfully familiar for Duke, which capped its run to the national championship last year with a dramatic two-point victory over Butler that wasn’t settled until Gordon Hayward’s halfcourt heave ricocheted off the glass and the iron at the buzzer.

One key difference: The eighth-seeded Wolverines (21-14) gave themselves a much cleaner look on their final shot.

Coach K
Michigan, which trailed by 15 with 10:51 to play, clawed within one point twice in the final 90 seconds before Smith missed a free throw with 8.7 seconds left to give the Wolverines one last chance.

Darius Morris zipped downcourt and put up a runner in the lane with 2 seconds left, but the shot bounced off the back iron and the rebound went to Smith at the buzzer.

Morris finished with 16 points to lead Michigan, which made seven 3-pointers — the most allowed by Duke in a month.

Kyrie Irving and Ryan Kelly scored 11 points apiece for the Blue Devils, who won their eighth straight game in the NCAA tournament.

“I don’t want to take this Duke jersey off. As simple as that,” Smith said. “Every game could be my last.”

Krzyzewski improved to 900-283 in his 36th season and can catch his mentor and college coach for first on the career list next weekend. He would match Bob Knight with a victory in the regional final, and would pass him with one win in Houston that also would put the reigning national champions back in the title game.

“There will be a lot of guys who will win 900 games eventually, but to be the first two and for it to be a coach and his player to do it, it’s something very unique,” Krzyzewski said.

Hardaway scored 15 points, Evan Smotrycz had 13, Novak scored 12 and Jordan Morgan finished with 10 for the Wolverines, who don’t have a senior on the roster. They were denied their first trip to the round of 16 since 1994.

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