Duke’s title defense ends with 82-68 loss to Oregon
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Mike Krzyzewski felt a swell of pride after Duke’s national title defense ended with a loss to Oregon.
Although the Blue Devils won’t be back-to-back champions, the veteran coach felt his young players’ tumultuous season went farther than many had imagined and left them no reason to be ashamed.
Dillon Brooks scored 22 points and the top-seeded Ducks advanced with an 82-68 victory over the Blue Devils on Thursday night in the West Region semifinal of the NCAA Tournament.
After a tight first half, the Pac-12 champion Ducks made a strong second-half rally to beat the Blue Devils (25-11) for the first time in school history. Duke repeatedly attempted to crack Oregon’s double-digit lead, but couldn’t get closer than nine points in the final 14 1/2 minutes.
Krzyzewski’s team lost five of its final 10 games, but the coach could only credit the Ducks, whose time in the national spotlight has arrived.
“With the injuries and youth and limited guys, for them to win 25 games, and (make the) Sweet 16, just a terrific group,” Krzyzewski said. “A terrific year. Proud of them. Wish we could have played better, but Oregon didn’t let us play better.”
Freshman Brandon Ingram scored 24 points, but Duke fell short of its third Elite Eight trip in five years — and both coaches agreed the better team won. Grayson Allen, the Blue Devils’ leading scorer, went 4 for 13 for 15 points, but Duke couldn’t make much progress in the second half.
“They’re not that deep,” Brooks said of the Blue Devils. “They’ve really only got seven guys. We knew they were bound to get tired. We just kept going and kept going, knowing they’d wear out. ... Some of them, their shoulders started to sag. Once they got tired we could see it.”
Elgin Cook had 16 points and nine rebounds for the Ducks (31-6), who will meet Oklahoma on Saturday. The second-seeded Sooners routed Texas A&M 77-63.
The win is a landmark for a football school making its basketball mark. But it was also remarkable for what the Ducks didn’t allow in the second half. No nerves, no panic — and no rallies by Duke.
The Ducks didn’t take the enormity of their accomplishment for granted, even though they can’t spend much time thinking about it right now.
“Duke is a household name,” coach Dana Altman said. “Coach K, I have a great deal of respect. So yeah, our guys knew the significance of playing Duke, defending national title, all the Final Fours, all the national championships that their program has been able to win. It was a different feel to it.”
Oregon was the champion of the first NCAA Tournament in 1939, but hasn’t been back to the Final Four since. The Ducks advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time since 2007 and the third time since 2002.
“I think we don’t have a history of being a basketball school, but I think we did some great things this year to prove we deserve it,” said Jordan Bell, who had 13 points and seven rebounds. “I think we played one of our best games this year. Everybody, not just including me. I think we showed everybody we’re a good team.”
Ingram had an outstanding NCAA Tournament, scoring 69 points in Duke’s three games. If the skinny 18-year-old forward heads to the NBA as expected, he’s likely to be a top-three pick after showing incredible promise in his only season in Durham. “I’m not really worried about that right now,” Ingram said of the NBA. “I’m worried about finishing up school and being with my guys. I love this team and I’d do anything for this team.”
Duke: The Blue Devils are 0-5 in NCAA Tournament games in the Pacific time zone ... Marshall Plumlee got two early fouls and finished with six points in his final game. ... Luke Kennard added 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Oregon: Altman is in the Elite Eight for the first time in his 26-season head coaching career. ... Benson hit three 3-pointers and scored 11 points.
Oregon: Faces Oklahoma in the West Region final.