Sports

Elite Eight set after wins by Villanova, Duke, Kansas and Texas Tech

Elite Eight set after wins by Villanova, Duke, Kansas and Texas Tech

Freshman Marvin Bagley III turned in a giant second-half effort, and second-seeded Duke held off the 11th-seeded Orange in a 69-65 chess match of a victory in the Midwest Region semifinals Friday night. Graduate student Lexie Brown, Duke's main ball-handler, will have to improve her assist-to-turnover ratio, as she walked away from the Georgia game with five giveaways herself with six assists. "And I'm excited to get out there and compete with my teammates and just try to continue to get wins". Plus, there's the fact they play every year in the ACC - Duke is 4-3 vs. the Orange since they joined the conference. All but one of his 15 attempts from the floor were from three. It will not be that easy for Duke in this one as the Jayhawks is a good three-point shooting team. The Cuse defense has been its strength, allowing 63.6 per game this season and just 60.6 over its last five. This season, Battle is averaging 19.3 points per game and scored 17 points in the team's last game against Michigan State. But going up against Duke's 2-3 zone also led to multiple errors by the Orange.

Bagley, who has 21 double-doubles this season, was dominant in the second half and rebounded to tally 22 points and seven boards. "It was a fight", senior Grayson Allen said. (14.4 ppg) each had 14. When we've looked at the question in the past, Michigan State's Tom Izzo always stood out from the pack. "I hope that looked as good as it did from the bench, man", Villanova coach Jay Wright said.

Azubuike was a bit of a question mark heading into the NCAA tournament because of a knee injury that forced him to the bench for the entire Big 12 tourney. The Jayhawks led 62-42, but the Tigers pulled within six with 2:27 remaining before Devonte Graham grabbed a huge offensive rebound that allowed Kansas to kill nearly a full minute off the clock. "And sometimes, just like for us, we're playing well". Kansas will be looking for their 15th trip to the Final Four. Battle led all players with 11 points on 50 percent shooting and added an alley-oop to Paschal Chukwu in the first 20 minutes. It will head to the whopping 15th final eight of Mike Krzyzewski's 38-year tenure because it had just enough of Allen's lobs to Marvin Bagley III, just enough times when it could shoot before Syracuse got set, and just enough of Syracuse's generous buffet of 16 turnovers to prevail, 69-65, in a Midwest Regional semifinal in which things kept getting nearly hairy but never full-on hairy.

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I generally take this many points ... but not here. "You could see. I coach 'em, so I could see, they were real young". The Atlanta native is the best defensive weapon in Duke's program, averaging a team-high 2.1 blocks per game.

This should be a great team game between a couple of teams that can score but can also play defense. But now, facing Duke, Syracuse is facing its steepest odds yet.

"Azura is a an excellent player and she's done a super job for them, and she's just part of their equation", McCallie said. To be fair, it's not like teams have a lot of film to watch on Duke's zone, which is a relatively new wrinkle for Krzyzewski's teams.


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