Tennessee hands Duke early March Madness exit to clinch Sweet 16 berth at MSG

ORLANDO, Fla. — Olivier Enkamuir scored a career-high 27 points, including Tennessee’s 13th streak in the decisive second-half span, as the fourth-seeded Volunteers defeated Duke 65-52 on Saturday, Advance to Sweet 16. First time since 2019.

Santiago Vescobi added 14 points and 5 assists to Tennessee (25-10), ending Duke’s 10-game winning streak and replacing first-year coach John Scheer (who was indicted to replace Mike Krzyshewski). Sent home after just two games in the NCAA Tournament. Coach K, the fifth-seeded Blue, has used the “Bully Ball” brand to pack the Devils (27-9), and is no different than ever to fight these Vols. You couldn’t.

“We want to be physical,” said Tennessee coach Rick Barnes. “We feel at our best when we can do that.”

Nkamhoua made 10 of 13 shots and scored an exclamation mark for Tennessee’s victory with a mighty slam with 1:15 left. This caused the Volz fans to start chanting and the Duke fans to scramble for an exit.

This win will stamp Tennessee’s ticket to the Suite 16.
Mike Erman/Getty Images

Tennessee will move forward and face the Florida Atlantic or Fairleigh Dickinson at Madison Square Garden on Thursday.

Duke did not handle Tennessee’s regal style all afternoon well. Volunteers set the tone early on, clearly wanting to push away Kyle Filipowski and put their hands in the faces of guards Jeremy Roach and Tyrese Proctor.

Vols big man Uros Plavsic picked up two offensive fouls in the first four minutes, both against Filipowski. Duke’s 7-footer later hit his elbow on his face and sustained a small cut under his left eye.

Kyle Filipowski, 30, of the Duke Center after suffering a cut under his eye during the first half of the second-round college basketball game against Tennessee at the NCAA Tournament in Orlando, Florida, Saturday, March 18, 2023. ) is sitting on a bench.
Duke star Kyle Filipowski suffered a cut under his eye during the game.
AP Photo/Phelan M. Evenhack

Proctor struggled to inbound the ball several times, received a 5-second call, flipped once, and nearly gave up again. Roach had more problems and he picked up his fourth foul with 15 minutes remaining and finished with five turnovers.

“We are always ready for a dogfight,” said Nkamhoua. “It’s an advantage for us when people start playing our game.”

It also helped that the Vols managed the ball better than they did in their first-round victory over Louisiana Lafayette. They turned over only 9 times. That’s Thursday’s half and the fewest since point guard Zakai Zeigler suffered a season-ending knee injury last month.

Uros Pravsic of the Tennessee Volunteers celebrates after defeating the Duke Blue Devils in the second round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
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Proctor led Duke with 16 points. Roach and Filipowski scored 13 points each.

Duke’s coming-of-age story ended in a somewhat surprising way. With four highly touted freshmen in the starting lineup, Duke looked to be a force in the tournament. But Tennessee’s experience (Vols starting four seniors to him) proved to be the difference.

After coming into the tournament losing 6 of 10, the Vols now have a winning streak, clearly re-establishing their identity as a big, physical, deep, defensively-minded team that fits everyone doing.

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