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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Duke downs No. 1-seeded Houston after Jamal Shead leaves with injury

Houston’s Jamal Shead, who left the game with a sprained ankle, scores on a fast break against Duke during the first half Friday.  (Tribune News Service)
By Steve Wiseman Charlotte Observer

It didn’t matter to Duke’s Jeremy Roach how poorly he performed in the first half Friday night against Houston.

A season, and his career, was on the line and the senior guard with Final Four experience wasn’t ready to go home.

Roach scored all 14 of his points in the second half, including a key basket with 1:15 to play, as the No. 4 seed Blue Devils knocked off the top-seeded Houston Cougars 54-51 in an NCAA Tournament South Regional semifinal game at American Airlines Center in Dallas.

Duke (27-8) advances to meet its ACC and neighborhood rival, No. 11 seed N.C. State (25-14), in Sunday’s regional final for a Final Four berth.

After going scoreless while missing all four of his first-half shots and turning the ball over three times, Roach hit shot after shot in the second half with Houston’s Jamal Shead, a first-team All-American guard, sidelined with a sprained ankle.

Roach’s basket in the lane with 1:15 to play gave Duke a 54-48 lead over Houston (32-5).

The Cougars climbed closer, with Emanuel Sharp scoring inside while drawing a foul. His free throw at 48.7 left Duke ahead 54-51. When Kyle Filipowski missed a shot in the lane with 21 seconds left, Houston had a chance to tie.

But after a timeout, LJ Cryer missed a running shot with 11 seconds left. After the ball was tipped around and fell out of bounds, Houston was awarded possession with 8.9 seconds left following a replay review.

Sharp missed a 3-point attempt with Duke’s Tyrese Proctor guarding him with 4 seconds left and the Blue Devils had the win.

Filipowski led Duke with 16 points as he and Roach were Duke’s lone double-figure scorers.

After Duke held a 23-22 halftime lead, the Blue Devils maintained a 39-37 lead as the clock ticked near the midway point of the second half with Houston helped Duke open some breathing room.

With the shot clock ticking down, Roach launched a desperation 3-pointer and Houston’s Mylik Wilson fouled him. Roach sank all three free throws for a 42-37 Duke lead with 10:53 to play.

Duke extended its lead to six points when Filipowski split two free throws and kept it there at 45-39 when Filipowski scored inside off a Proctor pass with 9:29 to play.

From there, Houston scored on six of its next seven possessions, climbing within a point at 45-44 at one point. But Filipowski drained a 3-pointer at 6:39 to stave the Cougars off.

With the score 48-46, Filipowski scored inside.

With the score 50-48, Proctor hit a jumper to give Duke a 52-48 lead with 3:50 to play.

Houston scored the game’s first eight points, as Duke turned the ball over on four of its first six possessions, and appeared ready to blow the Blue Devils out. But Duke stood fast on defense as the Cougars only shot 34.5% in the first half. Houston scored only 14 points over the final 17 minutes until halftime.

Although Duke turned the ball over nine times in the half and shot 34.8%, the Blue Devils slowly, methodically climbed out of that early hole.

It helped that Shead, the Big 12 Player of the Year and the conference’s defensive player of the year, left the game with 6:53 left in the half and did not return. The Cougars held a 16-10 lead when he limped off the court with a sprained ankle.

His absence allowed Duke’s guards to finally find some driving room against Houston’s half-court defense. Roach’s drive and dish to Mark Mitchell for a dunk at 4:15 sliced Houston’s lead to 18-17.

After two Sharp free throws, Jared McCain hit a pull-up jumper in the lane. Proctor was fouled grabbing a defensive rebound and his two free throws at 2:46 gave Duke its first lead at 21-20.

The Blue Devils took a 23-22 halftime lead and it became apparent this would be a nip-and-tuck game.

(11) North Carolina State 67, (2) Marquette 58: The Wolfpack opened up an early lead and kept their Cinderella run going with a win over the Golden Eagles in Dallas.

DJ Horne led with 19 points, while Casey Morsell added 15.

N.C. State have won eight straight games since entering the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament on a four-game losing streak.

(2) Tennessee 82, (3) Creighton 75: Dalton Knecht scored a team-high 24 points to lead the Volunteers past the Blue Jays in Detroit.

Tennessee made the Elite Eight for the second time and will play for the program’s first Final Four against Purdue, which hasn’t made the Final Four since 1980.