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Duke cruises past SDSU, Rozier lifts Cards over Northern Iowa, Virginia Falls in Second Round
Louisville Returns to the Sweet Sixteen With 66-53 Victory Over Northern Iowa
SEATTLE (AP) Early exit or Final Four - Louisville coach Rick Pitino said he wouldn't be surprised by either this season.
Well, how `bout another Sweet 16 for the Cardinals.
Terry Rozier had 25 points and seven assists, and Pitino directed the fourth-seeded Cards to a 66-53 victory Sunday night over Northern Iowa in the NCAA Tournament.
The fifth-seeded Panthers (31-4) were a popular pick in this one, trying to recreate their 2010 victory over a different blueblood (Kansas) and make another trip to the second weekend. But Pitino's harassing, 2-3 defense made life rough on their best player, Seth Tuttle, holding him to seven shots and 14 hard-earned points.
Now, the Cardinals (26-8) find themselves in the Sweet 16 for a program-record fourth straight year, and in the free-for-all that is now the East Region, it's silly to count them out for a third trip to the Final Four since 2012. Louisville will play eighth-seeded North Carolina State on Friday in Syracuse. A win in that one, and it could be Pitino vs. Tom Izzo, whose Michigan State team is on the other side of that bracket.
This was the grinding affair pretty much everyone expected between two teams ranked in the nation's top 20 in defense.
Except in Rozier's case. He darted his way around the floor, finding open spots for jumpers, floaters and creating enough contact to get to the line nine times. His final numbers: 8 for 13 from the floor, 8 for 9 from the line, five rebounds and the seven assists, including two sweet alley-oop passes to Montrezl Harrell that put game away.
But Louisville really won this one with defense. The Cards forced 10 turnovers and held Northern's efficient offense to 39 percent shooting. Pitino's decision to start 6-foot-10 center Mangok Mathiang set the tone against Tuttle, who found little room in the post.
Northern Iowa's last, best run started when Nate Buss made back-to-back shots to trim a 10-point deficit to six with 4:26 left. The Panthers got the ball on a breakaway and looked to have an easy bucket when Jeremy Morgan dropped a pass to Wes Washpun, who went unhindered to the basket. But Wayne Blackshear came from nowhere to disrupt the shot, then Louisville went down and Rozier threw a lob to Harrell (14 points) for his first alley-oop.
About a minute later, they connected again for a jam and three-point play that ended it.
Blackshear, a senior, finished with 10 points to go over the 1,000-point mark for his career. He's been on three 30-win teams. The only way he can make it four is if the Cardinals take the title.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Jahlil Okafor scored 18 of his 26 points in a dominating first half and Duke beat San Diego State 68-49 on Sunday in the NCAA Tournament, sending the top-seeded Blue Devils back to the Sweet 16.
Fellow freshman Justise Winslow added 13 points and 12 rebounds for Duke (31-4), which for the second straight tournament game ran out to a quick lead and stayed in control the rest of the way.
Duke -- holding a No. 1 seed for the 11th time in 18 seasons but its first since 2011 -- advanced to face fifth-seeded Utah in Houston's South Region semifinals.
Mike Krzyzewski's Blue Devils are pushing for their 12th Final Four and completed their two-game stay in their home state with a pair of hot-shooting wins.
Duke shot 55 percent against the eighth-seeded Aztecs (27-9), two days after shooting 63 percent against Robert Morris.
Fittingly it was Okafor, the big man who has powered Duke's offense all season, who led the way Sunday.
The 6-foot-11 freshman showed a full range of elite moves in the opening half. He scored with his back to the basket. He put the ball on the floor from about 10 feet and drove for scores. He ran the court for a dunk on a beautiful Cook-to-Jones-to-Okafor push downcourt.
The Aztecs, despite having some size to wrestle with him, had no way to stop him.
Meanwhile, Winslow put on his own show with five assists and one jaw-dropping block on JJ O'Brien at the rim. That set the ball loose in transition for Quinn Cook to bury a 3-pointer, then pretend to holster pistols as he turned to run back up the court -- a sign that the Blue Devils were completely at ease and rolling with a confident strut.
The Aztecs were trying to reach the Sweet 16 for the third time under coach Steve Fisher, but San Diego State -- with a few players and coaches battling a stomach ailment -- got off to a bad start and struggled to get Duke to slow down early.
Duke shot 53 percent to lead 37-24 at halftime. The Aztecs fought back within 44-37 on a 3-pointer from Malik Pope with 12:42 left, then got the ball back with a chance to inch closer.
But Trey Kell missed an open shot in the lane, and Duke pushed the ball back downcourt for a 3 from Cook -- a crushing five-point swing and the start of an 11-0 run that killed any chance for San Diego State to get back in it.
Winston Shepard scored 13 points to lead the Aztecs, who shot just 33 percent.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP)- The Cavaliers (30-4) were led by Anthony Gill's 11 points but Michigan State knocked second-seeded Virginia out of the NCAA Tournament, 60-54 on Sunday.
Gill tabbed 11 points and Darion Atkins added 10 points and 14 rebounds for the Cavaliers.
The Cavaliers opened the game 2 of 10 from the field, but started to turn things around when Atkins rejected Alvin Ellis III's attempt at a one-handed dunk, leading to a corner 3-pointer from Marial Shayok at the other end.
But the Cavaliers could never get in a flow on offense, finishing the first half shooting just 26.7 percent (8 of 30) from the field. Atkins kept the Cavaliers in the game with eight points and six rebounds in the first half.
Virginia cut the lead to two to start the second half behind two quick baskets by Justin Anderson. The Spartans countered with a 12-2 run led by Dawson, who had seven points during the stretch, including a three-point play off a fastbreak dunk.
Down six points, Atkins picked up his fourth foul with 8:36 left on what replays showed to be a clean block on Gavin Schilling and was forced to go to the bench.
Virginia got within five after Atkins returned to the lineup before Trice knocked down a clutch 28-footer with 1 second left on the shot clock to put the Spartans up 52-44 with 3 minutes to play.
Virginia finished with its second straight 30-win season, a school record.