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Cards defeat Pack in first ACC Sweet 16 matchup; Duke headed back to Elite 8
HOUSTON, Texas – Mike Krzyzewski and Duke are one win away from getting back to the NCAA Final Four, this time with a talented group of freshmen.
Justise Winslow, the freshman from Houston playing at home the day after his 19th birthday, had 21 points and 10 rebounds for the South Regional's top-seeded Blue Devils in their 63-57 Sweet 16 victory over revived Utah on Friday night.
Duke (32-4) is going to its 20th regional final, the 14th under Coach K for the most by any active coach. The last Final Four appearance was in 2010, when the Blue Devils also went through Houston on way to their fourth national title.
Winslow is one of three freshman starters for Duke, a trio that includes standout big man Jahlil Okafor and guard Tyus Jones, who had 15 points. Okafor has six points and eight rebounds.
Brandon Taylor had 15 points for the Utes (26-9), the No. 5 seed with an at-large berth out of the Pac-12.
The Blue Devils play No. 2 seed Gonzaga (35-2) on Sunday in the South Regional final, with the winner going to Indianapolis for the Final Four. The Bulldogs beat 11th-seeded UCLA 74-62 in the earlier game Friday night at NRG Stadium, the home of the NFL's Houston Texans.
Utah and its Coach K, Larry Krystkowiak, got to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2005, and only three years after winning six games in Krystkowiak's first season.
Leading scorer Delon Wright was the Utes' only senior starter, and Bachynski the only other graduating player who played regularly.
Wright, who got his third foul on a questionable call with about 5 minutes left in the first half, finished with 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting. Dallin Bachynski added 11 points for the Utes, and 7-foot freshman Jakob Poeltl had 10 points and eight rebounds.
Even after Utah didn't score until nearly 5 minutes into the game, Duke was down 8-5 before going ahead to stay with an 8-0 run in just over 2½ minutes when all the Blue Devils freshman starters scored.
Winslow's 3-pointer at 12:36 tied the game 8-8 before Amile Jefferson's tiebreaking layup. Okafor had a jumper before Jones' layup made it 14-8 with 9:54 left.
Another 8-0 run after halftime pushed the Blue Devils to a 49-34 lead with 8:41 left.
That spurt was included four free throws by Quinn Cook, the senior guard who also made it to a Sweet 16 in 2013 -- but was also part of the Blue Devils squads upset in their NCAA openers last year (Mercer) and in 2012 (Lehigh).
Wright got his third foul with 4:57 left in the first half in a scramble for the ball -- under the Duke basket and in front of the Utah bench. Wright and Winslow were both on the floor, the Duke freshman on his back, when the foul was called.
Duke was up 27-17 on a layup by Okafor with 3:04 left, but didn't score again until after halftime.
Utah cut the deficit in half after Bachynski had a three-point play -- after Okafor's second foul with 1:22 left -- and then added two more free throws with 33 seconds left.
Wright got back in the game after halftime, making a jumper on the first shot for a 27-24 score. The Utes never got closer.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) Montrezl Harrell scored 24 points, reserve Anton Gill keyed a late-game surge, and Louisville beat North Carolina State 75-65 on Friday night in the East Regional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament.
Louisville (27-8), the fourth seed in the East and seeking to make its third Final Four in four years, will play either No. 3 seed Oklahoma or seventh-seeded Michigan State in the East final on Sunday. The Sooners and Spartans played in Friday's nightcap in the Carrier Dome.
After toppling top-seeded Villanova, North Carolina State (22-14), the eighth seed, saw its postseason run end against a team that refused to quit.
Louisville wasn't given much chance of playing in late March after it lost two of three entering the NCAA Tournament, but gritty wins over UC Irvine and Northern Iowa had the Cardinals brimming with confidence.
Terry Rozier had 17 points and 14 rebounds and freshman guard Quentin Snider added 14 points for the Cardinals.
Louisville coach Rick Pitino has a 12-1 record in Sweet 16 games, 6-1 with the Cardinals.
Trevor Lacey led the Wolfpack with 18 points, while Ralston Turner had 12 and Kyle Washington 11.
Anthony ''Cat'' Barber, the spark of the Wolfpack's attack, finished with eight points on 3-of-14 shooting, only briefly getting untracked early in the second half.
Before the game, Pitino promised a surprise and Gill delivered in spades. Gill, who averaged 9.5 minutes and 2.4 points during the season, hit a runner and a 3 from the right corner in a span of a minute as Louisville regained the lead late in a seesaw game. He followed with a baseline drive for a 62-57 lead with 3:33 left.
Lacey missed and Rozier stormed back on a fast break, his off-balance shot caroming in off the back of the iron as Turner committed a foul. Rozier calmly made the free throw to complete a three-point play for a 65-57 lead with 3:05 left.
Harrell's driving layup with 1:41 to go boosted the lead to 67-57 and that effectively put an end to the Wolfpack's postseason run.
The teams met during the regular Atlantic Coast Conference season, with the Wolfpack winning 74-65 on the road on Valentine's Day behind Barber's 21 points.
The Cardinals are not the same team. Standout guard Chris Jones, an offensive catalyst and master of the steal, was dismissed from the team for off-the-court problems. Snider stepped in and has gained confidence, scoring 26 points and snaring nine rebounds in Louisville's first two tournament wins.
The changes have been noticeable. With seven freshmen, the pressure Pitino's teams thrive on has picked up. In Louisville's 66-53 win over Northern Iowa on Sunday night, the Cardinals held the Panthers to 39 percent shooting, forced 10 turnovers and outrebounded them 30-25.
In this one, the Wolfpack's bigs faltered repeatedly inside as Louisville outscored N.C. State 40-24 in the paint and finished 27 of 54 from the field. State's BeeJay Anya, Abdul-Malik Abut and Lennard Freeman combined to shoot 4 of 14 and registered just three blocks, one fewer than the Cardinals.
Before the start of the second half, North Carolina State coach Mark Gottfried pulled Barber aside at the bench, put his arm around his neck and gave him a pep talk before tapping him on the rear end. Held scoreless in the first half, Barber responded by draining two 3-pointers to boost the Wolfpack's lead to 39-31.
Unfazed, Louisville responded with a 16-2 run to regain the lead. Snider hit a 3 from the right wing just seconds after Mangok Mathiang had stuffed Abu at the rim and two free throws by Wayne Blackshear put the Cardinals up 47-41 with 12:58 left.
Determined to keep its storybook run going, the Wolfpack rallied again. Lacey's 3 from the top of the key gave them a 54-53 lead with 7:15 left.
N.C. State rallied from 16 points down in the second half against LSU and won by a point on Anya's basket with 0.1 on the clock, then imposed its will on Villanova.
They were unable to duplicate that performance against the Cardinals, who limited N.C. State to 38.3 percent shooting (23 of 60).