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If you quickly scanned the stats — Gonzaga shooting a higher percentage, winning the glass, 13-0 edge in bench points, 15-9 edge in second-chance points and capably defending Duke's offense and star center Jahlil Okafor — it would seemingly add up to a Zags' victory.
But GU's normally productive offense had two lengthy dry spells in the second half, one after taking a 38-34 lead and another rough patch in the final 5-plus minutes. Duke took full advantage.
One last time this season, here's our game coverage: My game story, John Blanchette's column, Colin Mulvany's photos, Jacob Thorpe's Duke sidebar and a Meehan/Thorpe notebook. Here's a link to find Duke coverage in the Charlotte paper.
For the second time in school history, Gonzaga will play for a spot in the Final Four when it takes on No. 1 seeded Duke today. If it's not the biggest game day in program history, it at least shares top billing with the 1999 squad's Elite Eight showdown with Connecticut.
Here's our coverage: My game advance and notebook, John Blanchette column on Matt Santangelo, and Jacob Thorpe's notebook and feature on Duke's Justise Winslow. Here's a link to Duke coverage in the Charlotte Observer.
Kyle O'Quinn's booming voice echoed through the halls, the jovial center for Norfolk State riding the euphoria of a monumental upset of Missouri as the words spilled out of his mouth faster than he could think. "We messed up some brackets! We messed up some brackets!" he bellowed, before turning a corner and seeing a pack of reporters. "We even messed up my bracket," he said sheepishly. O'Quinn put together the finest game of his career at the biggest moment in the history of Norfolk State basketball. The senior finished with 26 points and 14 rebounds, helping the No. 15 seed Spartans to an 86-84 victory over the second-seeded Tigers on Friday/Associated Press. More here. (AP photo: Norfolk State's Brandon Wheeless celebrates after defeating Missouri 86-84 in an NCAA tournament)
Question: Do you prefer to root for Davids or Goliaths in athletic competition?
Arizona's Derrick Williams, left, is fouled by Duke's Miles Plumlee on a dunk try.
ANAHEIM, Calif. – Derrick Williams carried Arizona in the first half, keeping the Wildcats in the game against Duke. His teammates returned the favor in the final 20 minutes with an offensive barrage that stunned the defending national champions.
Williams scored 25 of his career-high 32 points in the first half of Arizona’s 93-77 victory Thursday night, helping the Wildcats reach the final eight for the first time since 2005.
“As a team, we came together and willed ourselves to win,” said Lamont Jones, who added 16 points. “Derrick is a great player, but we all contribute.” Beth Harris, AP
I'm thinking this game probably messed up a few brackets. How are yours?
A shorter day-after post than usual because we weren’t at the day-of event.
Notes and quotes below.
Any time I have to drag out the reading glasses, it means bad news for somebody — Gonzaga or Gonzaga’s opponent. It means I’m scanning the Gonzaga media guide to see where a win/loss, point total, shooting percentage, etc., ranks in the school records.
Today, it was Gonzaga’s turn as the Bulldogs were blasted 76-41 by No. 7 Duke. There haven’t been many of these blowouts in recent years (Memphis, Illinois, Virginia off the top of my head), but this one wasn’t in doubt after Duke’s 18-2 run midway through the first half.
I wasn’t on hand to witness the drubbing live, but I’ve cobbled together a game story, with the help of GU SID Oliver Pierce and the wire services. You can read the unedited version below.
It didn’t get any better for Gonzaga in the second half. In fact, it got worse.
No. 7 Duke overwhelmed No. 15 Gonzaga 76-41 on Saturday. Duke led 31-17 at half and cruised in the second half while Gonzaga continued to struggle at both ends of the court.
Back with a recap in about an hour.
Gonzaga was pretty much a mess offensively as it fell into a 31-17 hole against Duke on Saturday at Madison Square Garden.
The Bulldogs had 13 turnovers and made just 7 of 28 shots (0 of 5 on 3s). They missed layups, had airballs on open 3s and short jump hooks, and clanked a dunk attempt. And they were 3 of 8 at the free-throw line.
In the first seven minutes, GU’s lone basket came on a dunk by Will Foster. GU recovered to lead 10-8, but Duke scored 18 of the next 20 points to take a comfortable lead.
Robert Sacre scored seven points and Manny Arop chipped in four. Matt Bouldin, back in the starting lineup after a one-game absence, had two points and two assists, but committed four turnovers. Elias Harris was 0 of 6 from the field and had three turnovers. Steven Gray was 0 of 3 and had two turnovers.
Duke’s Jon Scheyer had 14 points (eight coming at the foul line) and Nolan Smith added nine.
Back after the game with an update.
Back with a preview of Saturday’s Gonzaga-Duke game. Read on for the unedited version below and some notes that didn’t make it into the article.
Gonzaga and Duke are apparently discussing a potential Dec. 19th matchup at Madison Square Garden, according to ESPN.com. Nothing has been finalized.
Also on the scheduling front, it appears the GU-Memphis series will continue, despite the coaching change at the Conference USA school.
And I forgot to post Kelly Olynyk making his oral commitment official by signing his letter of intent. More here.