Oral Roberts Golden Eagles
12Duke Blue Devils
There was no drama in the first round for the fifth-placed Duke.
The Blue Devils unseated No. 12 Oral Roberts 74-51 in the first round of Thursday’s NCAA tournament in Orlando, snapping out to a huge lead in the opening minutes and eliminating any chance of the 5-12 upset , which is so common tournament.
The Blue Devils scored the first 15 points of the game and kept Oral Roberts scoreless for the first 8:05 of the first half. Duke led 40-23 at halftime and scored the first eight points of the second half to quash any hopes of an Oral Roberts comeback.
The Golden Eagles (30:5) never got closer than 14 points in the second half. Duke led by up to 25.
“Our defense really set the tone for us,” said first-year coach Jon Scheyer.
The Blue Devils, winners of 10 straight, were upset that they hadn’t seeded No. 3 or No. 4 (and opened the tournament in Greensboro) after winning the ACC tournament.
Instead, they got a date with Oral Roberts, who hadn’t lost since Jan. 9, a streak of 17 straight games. The Golden Eagles, champions of the Summit League, were the only team in the nation not to lose in conference play.
Oral Roberts entered the game as the nation’s No. 3, averaging more than 84 points per game.
This offense never surfaced.
Not with freshman center Dereck Lively II dominating the paint and the Blue Devils’ defense interfering with their offense. Oral Roberts missed his first 12 shots from the field.
“He completely changed our team,” said Scheyer. “I don’t even think the six blocks he gives enough credit to because there’s more where they’re either looking or they end up passing out just because of his presence around the basket, and then not to mention the job ‘Cause he worked at the pick-and-roll.”
Lively II had 12 rebounds, six blocked shots and four points. He had a block on Oral Roberts’ possession to set the tone for the evening.
“I just accepted it as my role to be able to protect the house,” Lively said after the game. “Supporting my teammates is something I accepted and tried to excel at.”
Junior guard Jeremy Roach, Duke’s most experienced player, set a career-high 23 points.
“He has tears in his eyes,” said Scheyer. “It’s more his way of thinking. I think the scoring, the way of playing comes together with that. He’s never lost his composure. He plays on both sides of the ball. He’s played 36 minutes and he’s done a great job defensively.”
Oral Roberts star Max Abmas posted a team-high 12 points but shot 4-of-15 from the field and 2-of-9 from 3-point range. Duke often gets him through two defenders and relies on Lively and others to help him recover from other players.
The Golden Eagles shot 30% from the field and 25% from 3-point range in the game.
“Wrong night to have a bad night,” Oral Roberts coach Paul Mills said of his team. “Duke deserves a lot of credit. You’re obviously really good.”
Freshman guard Dariq Whitehead added 13 points for Duke. Freshman forward Kyle Filipowski added six points, nine rebounds and four steals to the win.
A No. 5 seed is the lowest for Duke since 2007. The Blue Devils reached the Final Four last year as a No. 2 seed. Scheyer won a national title as a player with Duke in 2010.
The winner of the game plays the winner of fourth-seeded Tennessee (23-10) and No. 13-seeded Louisiana-Lafayette (26-7) in Saturday’s second round.