Duke keeps Utah at bay in Sweet 16, moves into Elite Eight in South region
Duke entered Friday night making its 22nd Sweet 16 appearance under coach Mike Krzyzewski. It ended the evening having reached another familiar round: the Elite Eight.
The top-seeded Blue Devils overcame a slow start to top fifth-seeded Utah 63-57, reaching the Elite Eight for the 14th time under Coach K. They will face No. 2 seed Gonzaga on Sunday for a trip to Krzyzewski's 12th Final Four.
Duke missed its first six shots, had just five points over the first seven minutes and trailed by three at the 12:45 mark of the first half. But a Justise Winslow three-pointer tied the score at 8 and an Amile Jefferson layup gave it the lead for good. Still, with 5:29 left until halftime, a layup by Utah's Jordan Loveridge cut the Blue Devils’ lead to 19-17.
On Duke's next possession, Utah's star guard, Delon Wright, picked up his third foul while wrestling for a loose ball. The controversial call sent Wright went to the bench, and Duke used that opportunity to inflate its lead, immediately embarking on an 8-0 run.
The Blue Devils carried a 27-22 lead into halftime, with Utah shooting a mere 28.6% from the field. The Utes had more turnovers (nine) than made field goals (eight), and Wright had more fouls (three) than points (two).
Wright hit the first bucket of the second half, getting the Utes within three, but Duke responded. A layup by freshman guard Tyus Jones with 15:55 to play gave the Blue Devils a 35-26 advantage. That lead ballooned to 47-34 at the 8:52 mark when Jefferson threw down a baseline dunk.
Utah cut Duke’s lead to six points with less than four minutes left. But Winslow rolled in a running layup, earned the foul and hit the ensuing free throw to restore a nine-point edge at 52-43. Winslow finished with a game-high 21 points to go with 10 rebounds, picking up the slack for All-America center Jahlil Okafor, who was held to just six points, 12 below his average. Wright suffered through a lackluster night, scoring 10 points on 4-of-14 shooting. Fellow guard Brandon Taylor led the Utes in scoring with 15 points but they shot only 35% as a team and 25% from three-point range.