Duke’s first March Madness without Mike Krzyzewski didn’t go how the Blue Devils had hoped.
The fourth-seeded Tennessee Volunteers pulled away late to hand No. 5 Duke a Round of 32 loss, 65-52, to advance to the Sweet 16.
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Tennessee forward Jonas Aidoo (0) dunks during the first half of a second-round NCAA Tournament game Saturday, March 18, 2023, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Duke led by as many as six, but the Vols went on a 17-2 run to go up by nine early in the second half. The Blue Devils responded with a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to two.
But junior Duke guard Jeremy Roach committed his fourth foul with 15 minutes left in the game, putting the Blue Devils in trouble with the Vols up five. With Roach in foul trouble, Tennessee took advantage, regaining a nine-point lead.
The Blue Devils battled and didn’t allow the deficit get to double-digits for several minutes. But with just over four minutes to go, a Vols 3-pointer gave them an 11-point lead that grew to 13 in the final minute of play.
Oliver Nkamhoua led all scorers with 27 points.
Tennessee forward Jonas Aidoo (0) goes up for a shot in front of Duke center Ryan Young during the first half of a second-round NCAA Tournament game Saturday, March 18, 2023, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
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Duke was never able to get the deficit back under five points after that Tennessee run.
The Blue Devils’ season started slow, and they got dangerously hot and won the ACC Tournament. But March was just too much for them.
Tennessee forward Julian Phillips (2) shoots as Duke guard Jacob Grandison (13) defends during the first half of a second-round NCAA Tournament game Saturday, March 18, 2023, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
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The Vols await the winner of No. 9 Florida Atlantic and No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson, which pulled off the biggest upset in March Madness history with its win over No. 1 Purdue.
It’s Tennessee’s first Sweet 16 trip since 2019.