NCAA hoops: Top-seeded Duke advances to round of 16 again
AP Sports Writer
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — When Brian Zoubek is calling for the ball and scoring at will, you know things are going really well for Duke.
Exploiting a huge advantage in size and depth in the frontcourt, the top-seeded Blue Devils glided into the round of 16 of the NCAA tournament for the 19th time under coach Mike Krzyzewski with a 68-53 victory over eighth-seeded California on Sunday.
The 7-foot-1, light-scoring Zoubek had 14 points and 13 rebounds while teaming with Lance Thomas and reserves Miles and Mason Plumlee to dominate a suspension-weakened Cal frontline featuring 6-foot-8 Duke transfer Jamal Boykin — and little else.
Nolan Smith led the Blue Devils (31-5) with 20 points and spearheaded Duke's trademark man-to-man defense that made it difficult for Cal's high-scoring trio of Jerome Randle, Patrick Christopher and Theo Robertson to get open looks.
Kyle Singler scored 17 for Duke, which advanced to the South Regional in Houston, where the Blue Devils will face fourth-seeded Purdue on Friday. Zoubek's 6-for-6 shooting more than made up for leading scorer Jon Scheyer going 1 of 11 and finishing with seven points.
With starting forward Omondi Amoke suspended for an unspecified team violation, Cal (24-11) once again went with a three-guard lineup that overwhelmed Louisville in the opening round because of exceptional 3-point shooting.
Krzyzewski said he couldn't remember the Blue Devils facing a team with so many players capable of stretching a defense. But Cal's lack of size and depth under the basket hurt the Golden Bears all day.
Boykin, who transferred from Duke after spending a little more than a season with the Blue Devils, led Cal with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Randle had 12 points and Robertson 10, but the Golden Bears misfired on nine of 12 3-point attempts and Christopher was held to two points — 14 below his average.
One day after the 17th anniversary of Cal beating Duke in the second round to stop the Blue Devils' bid for a third consecutive national title, the Golden Bears simply didn't have the firepower to block the Blue Devils' path to Houston.
Jason Kidd was the point guard on that 1993 Cal team. Randle was the Pac-10 player of the year and one of the keys to the Golden Bears winning their first conference title in 50 years this season, but Duke never allowed him to get into a rhythm.
The game plan was to make Cal work hard for shots, even the NBA-range 3s that Randle, Robertson and Christopher like to launch. The Golden Bears made four of them to open an early 18-point lead against Louisville, but were just 1 of 6 from behind the arc in falling behind 37-34 at halftime against Duke.
When Zoubek and Duke's best defender, Thomas, weren't clogging the lane on defense and taking advantage of their size to score easy baskets on offense, the Plumlee brothers were doing the job for the Blue Devils.
Zoubek and the Plumlees were a combined 7 for 7 from the field in the opening half. Cal made one run in the second half, scoring eight straight points to pull within 44-37 before Zoubek's tip-in started a burst that put the game away.