March Madness roundup: Arizona goes home early, Duke lives to fight another day
San Francisco, California - On a night when number-one seeds weren’t safe, the Arizona Wildcats suffered an unexpected 72-60 loss at the hands of the impressive Houston Cougars.
This basketball game belonged to the Cougars from start to finish and the Wildcats' chances went up in smoke virtually from the opening tip.
Houston never trailed Arizona in this matchup. The Wildcats only ever got as close as two points, once in the first half and then with just over 13 minutes left in regulation. Even so, the Cougars were never in any real danger.
It was a true showcase of the Cougars’ defensive prowess, as they held a team that averaged 86 points in the tournament to only 60.
Top that off with Arizona shooting only 33% as a team from the field, and you’ve got a recipe for a fairly straightforward win.
Leading the way for the Cougars was sophomore guard Jamal Shead (19) who shot a shaky 5-for-19 from the field, making up for it with 9 out of 10 from the free-throw line for a game-high 21 points, six assists, and four rebounds.
More Wildcats stand in Houston's way in the Elite Eight on Saturday, this time those from Villanova.
The Blue Devils refuse to lose
The Duke Blue Devils survived on Thursday night to advance past the Texas Tech Red Raiders with a thrilling 78-73 win in the West Region.
Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski’s 100th NCAA tournament win came in a rather uncharacteristic fashion, as Duke took a while – most of the game, in fact – to finally look like a national championship contender.
The Blue Devils played some sloppy basketball in the first five minutes of the game, but straightened up eventually to make things interesting. Despite missing a lot of shots and giving the ball away often, they still managed to only trail the Red Raiders by four at halftime.
However, it seemed to be more of the same for the Blue Devils as Texas Tech continued to control the pace of the game, keeping Duke on their heels.
But again, Duke held in there and got their second lead of the game with over 11 minutes to go.
Both squads continued to swap leads until the Blue Devils took charge with just under three minutes in regulation and never looked back from there.
Duke’s largest lead was five points and it came with over a minute to play in regulation, part of an impressive period during which they didn’t miss a single shot in the final seven and a half minutes of play.
A huge part of Duke’s success in this game was freshman forward Paolo Banchero who was 7-for-12 from the field, including 3-for-4 shooting from behind the arc for a game-high 22 points, four rebounds, four assists, and three steals.
On Saturday night, the Blue Devils will play the Arkansas Razorbacks in the Elite Eight for a spot in the Final Four.
Cover photo: IMAGO/ZUMA Wire