JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Duke Blue Devils punched their ticket to the Sweet 16 with a 68-53 win over the PAC 10 Champion California Golden Bears. The Blue Devils scored close to a season high 38 points in the paint and held an 18-5 edge on points off turnovers.
California's game plan was to not let Kyle Singler beat them as we alluded to in our preview and, while that worked for a while, Singler proved to be a load in the second half. Singler ended the game with17 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists.
Nolan Smith led the way for the Blue Devils scoring 20 points and playing great on ball defense on the California guards. Duke held PAC 10 player of the year, Jerome Randle, to 12 points and the Bears shot just 34.8% from the field.
It says a lot about how good this Duke team has become in that it's leading scorer, Jon Scheyer, shot a miserable 1 of 11 from the field and ended the game with just 7 points.
The Blue Devils were once again aided by senior center Brian Zoubek, who went 6 of 6 from the field for 14 points and added a game high 13 rebounds for his 3rd double-double of the season.
Duke also won easily while cold from the three point stripe where they went 3 of 17. Former Duke player Jamal Boykin led the Bears in rebounds with 11 to go with his team high 13 points.
Some of the Blue Devil players gathered in the locker room to watch Purdue clip Texas A & M in the final seconds of the game. So, the Dukies are set to play the Boilermakers on Friday in Houston, Texas in Sweet 16 action.
The Blue Devils boosted their record to 31-5 on the season while California fell to 24-11.
Stay tuned to Blue Devil Nation for interviews and be sure to check in throughout the week for maximum coverage of Duke's road to the Final Four.
Duke Student Athletes
SECOND ROUND POSTGAME QUOTES
SUNDAY, March 21, 2010
Brian, can you talk a little bit about your dunk at the end of the game? I think it was your first dunk since the Maryland game. Could you talk about your enthusiastic response to that and what it did for the team?
BRIAN ZOUBEK: “For me two points is two points. Getting the dunk felt great. I haven't been able to get that many open ones where I could just go up without any contact, and I was excited. I knew that was a big point in the game where we just created a little separation there. So it felt good.”
Nolan, could you talk about the job that you did against their three-point shooters, what tactics you guys did that you felt were effective?
NOLAN SMITH: “We stuck with their shooters. We couldn't give them any breathing room, and we just really stuck with them. We really gave them no open looks on ball screens. Our big guys really helped us, and Jon and Kyle, their perimeter three-point shooters, they just stayed with them the whole game.”
Do you expect the physical play that you got tonight? It seemed like the bodies were kind of flying around inside tonight?
BRIAN ZOUBEK: “Yeah, it was a really tough game inside, a lot of elbows thrown, a lot of contact. Both teams were playing hard, and we knew that the rebounding was going to be an essential part of the game, so both teams were fighting for it. I know that Boykin and Sanders were really being physical underneath, and I know that for me without Lance being just as physical or more physical than them, I wouldn't have gotten a lot of rebounds, and I wouldn't have gotten a lot of stuff, so I've got to give a lot of props up to him. He did a hell of a job.”
For both guys, all the talk all the time is about the big three. Today Jon was 1 of 11, but yourself and the Plumlees and a lot of guys who don't get a lot of attention really played big games and had big roles. What does it say about this team that you can win and win going away with Jon going 1 of 11?)
NOLAN SMITH: “This team has so much talent and so much potential. Every game somebody steps up, and that's the exciting thing about this team. We might not shoot good every game, but we play defense and play hard, and any game somebody is going to surprise you.”
Nolan, did you sense any frustration from Randle as it became so clear that he was not going to get any open looks? And if so, when did that occur?
NOLAN SMITH: “Really no frustration, because obviously he's a great player and he's a great scorer, and looking at him, he stayed calm the whole game. But from the getgo, I really wanted to make it clear that I was going to be in his jersey the whole game. That was the game plan. I just stuck with him with the help of my big guys. They really helped me out, and I owe it all to them. They made my job easy fighting over screens and giving them no open looks.”
Mike Krzyewski/Duke Head Coach
SECOND ROUND POSTGAME QUOTES
SUNDAY, March 21, 2010
“Okay. We played an outstanding defensive game tonight against a championship team. Cal with Mike Montgomery right away did something that no one has done for 50 years at Cal and their conference; they won the regular season. And we knew that they would have that pedigree, that air of a champion about them. And we had unbelievable respect for them, and especially their perimeter. Those three kids are such good shooters, and I thought the discipline that we had defensively was the difference in the ballgame.”
“Also we could match up a little bit better with them with Lance being on Robertson instead of a bigger guy, and so we -- the kids played really hard, and Brian and Miles on the highball screen with Randle stayed up there long enough so Randle couldn't measure Nolan until Nolan got back.”
“Just the kids played a beautiful defensive game. I'm really proud of them. And when it got down to seven points, then there's a lot of game pressure on you. We went to run motion and Brian got two big buckets. Zoubs was huge for us throughout the game, especially at that time. We know we beat a really good team, and we're happy to be moving on obviously.”
For those of us who haven't seen him all year, talk about the way Nolan has blossomed and matured this season.
“Good question. He has been probably the unsung hero, he and Zoubs, I think, because you knew that Kyle and Jon coming in were going to be -- and they have been really good. But Nolan, especially at the end of a clock, is our go-to guy. He's been our on the ball defender the whole year. So he's scoring and defending on the ball.”
“That's a great combination. You have to be a very, very good player to be able to do that. And he can still get a lot better. He can get a lot better. But he's playing great basketball for us all year.”
“His match-up against Randle was the key match-up of the game, just to make sure Randle -- Randle gives them such verve. I mean, I've watched tapes of him the last two days, and the first half against Oregon, I don't know if I've seen a kid play better. And Nolan sees all that, and he helped keep him under control while still scoring 20 points. That was a marvelous performance by Nolan.”
About Jon's shooting again, did you see anything other than what you were talking about earlier in the week, the responsibility load? And you took him out for about ten seconds --
“Well, I think he's -- Jon wants it so badly that I think he's making every shot bigger than they are. I really believe that. It comes from a good place.”
“In our business or in any business, you want people who have great attitudes. His attitude is so good that sometimes I think he just puts too much pressure on himself.”
“I will say this, that their kid Gutierrez is a very good defender. It's not just Jon missing shots. Gutierrez gets in on you, and that was the guy covering Jon all day. So to give that kid credit, Jon missed a couple open ones, but he had to work hard to get a look.”
“In saying that, Jon came up with one of the best defensive plays on their out of bounds under, and we got the three play. That was a huge play in the game.”
In past years if your team shot 3 for 17 from three, you probably wouldn't have won the game. What makes this team different from past teams that allowed you to do that today?
“Well, in past teams, meaning the last few years, those kids achieved as much as they could achieve. You know, I hate when somebody compares those teams of the last couple years with our national championship teams, and they say they under achieved. Are you kidding me? They won 30, 29 games. But they were limited teams, and they couldn't play the defense that this team can play because we have big guys.”
“That's the difference. We're a better team this year. I don't know if we'll go any further, but this is a better team because it can play total defense, and it doesn't have to rely on that other stuff. I mean, someone will say in the past, well, they relied on the three-point shot. Well, what else were we going to rely on? We relied on it enough to win 30 games. Just because then you lose, doesn't mean those kids under achieved. They maxed. They maxed. This team is better. It's not a great team, but it's a really -- it's an excellent defensive team that hopefully can be a little bit better offensively as we go forward.”
We watched Kansas lose as the No. 1 seed yesterday. Did you mention that at all to your players and kind of warn them of the dangers of possibly overlooking a team?
“No, no. Our team hasn't overlooked anybody at year because we're not a great team. We've got to really prepare for every game, and every team in the NCAA tournament prepares that way. Kansas didn't lose because they looked ahead. Kansas lost because Northern Iowa played a great game. Kansas didn't play badly against them.”
“We didn't talk much about it, but we had our team meeting last night. It just occurred at 8:00, right after the game. So they -- obviously they knew it right away. And what we pointed out was that the reason Kansas lost was two of Northern Iowa's kids took charges in the last few minutes. So any one of you guys could take a charge and it might win a game. The other thing is I think the kid Cook got that offensive rebound and then dunked it. It was one of the great plays of this basketball season. And it wasn't a called play, and so that was our theme to our team is that those are the kind of plays that the winning teams will make going forward.”
“The other team didn't make losing plays; you have to make winning plays in this tournament. So that's what we talked about after the Kansas game.”
THE MODERATOR: Coach, thank you
“Thank you to the organizing committee and everyone here in Jacksonville. You all have been fantastic to all the teams. We won, so it makes it even better, but I would say that even if we lost, all right? Thanks.”