#1 Duke Advances, Defeats #9 UCF In A Heart-Stopper, 77-76

This season is going to doom my heart rate for life. In yet another game going down to the last buzzer, Duke escaped and advanced to the Sweet 16 by defeating UCF in a thriller, 77-76. Zion Williamson was again magnificent with 32 points and 11 rebounds, including a bucket and fifth foul on 7’6″ center Tacko Fall in the final 10 seconds. RJ Barrett got the offensive rebound and the basket off the missed free throw for the lead, and the Golden Knights missed twice at the end with the final tip-in rolling barely out.

Hats off to the Golden Knights: they executed a game plan, they had the hottest player on the court, and they fought their rear ends off to the last in-and-out shot. Duke legend Johnny Dawkins really has something with that program. Not only did he coach a great game, he has an amazing player in his own son, Aubrey Dawkins. Dawkins led all scorers (tying Zion) with 32 points and just couldn’t seem to miss, especially from deep. It’s likely that Dawkins felt strongly about this game having grown up around Duke while his father was an assistant; if so, he should probably try feel that way about every game based on how he played.

Nothing can tell the story of this game more than the tape itself, so here it is. On to the Sweet 16, Duke will face a familiar face but with a new face: Virginia Tech, but with Justin Robinson, which takes the Hokies to a whole new level. They defeated St. Louis and Liberty without much trouble, but this will be the biggest test by far. On the other hand, Duke lost to Virginia Tech in Blacksburg but without Zion Williamson; how will they respond to the return of the Wooden Award favorite?

Bleed blue. Duke gets a break for now after surviving the first week of the tournament, but returns this Friday at 9:40.

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