Duke vs. Arkansas score: Blue Devils NCAA Elite Eight Tournament win puts Coach K in record 13th Final Four

Duke faced another elite defense Saturday night in the Elite Eight, and the Blue Devils put on another elite offensive performance as they edged Arkansas 78-69 to reach next week’s Final Four. . AJ Griffin led the No. 2 seeded Blue Devils with 18 points, but it was a balanced effort for Duke, who followed up Thursday’s masterful performance against Texas Tech with another hot shooting night.

As a team, Duke shot 54.7% and topped the paint against an Arkansas team that saw its season finish in the Elite Eight for the second straight season. This will mark Duke’s first Final Four appearance since 2015 and bring coach Mike Krzyzewski’s Final Four appearances to 13 as he prepares to retire at the end of the season. Duke will face the winner of Sunday’s game between No. 8 seeded North Carolina and No. 15 seeded Saint Peter next Saturday.

The teams traded points in the first half, but the Blue Devils used an 8-0 surge in the final 1:20 of the half to open a 45-33 halftime lead. Trevor Keels drilled a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer to send Duke into the locker room with momentum.

Arkansas cut the deficit to 53-48 with 13:19 remaining on a 3-point play from Jaylin Williams. But Duke quickly went on a 10-0 run that started with a bucket from Paolo Banchero. At 9:07, the Blue Devils had a 66-51 advantage, and the Razorbacks never came back into single digits until the last minute when the game was out of reach.

Big battle ahead

Duke’s victory sets up a Final Four game for the ages that will be a great story, no matter who the opponent is. If it’s the Tar Heels, then Duke will face their rival in the Final Four following UNC’s win over Duke in Coach K’s final home game on March 5. playing Virginia Tech instead after the Hokies beat North Carolina in the semifinals.

They can get a rematch after all, and this one would have legendary stakes attached to it. But, of course, North Carolina has to get past Saint Peter’s first. The Peacocks are the first No. 15 seed to reach the Elite Eight and won the hearts of the nation in the process. With wins over Kentucky, Murray State and Purdue under their belt, the Peacocks won’t be intimidated by the Tar Heels nor will they back down against Duke.

Regardless of who Duke plays next Saturday, it’s going to be one of the most thrilling Final Four games in quite some time.

Big trouble slows down Jaylin Williams

When Arkansas center Jaylin Williams committed his second foul with 5:29 remaining in the first half, he initially stayed in the game. But 33 seconds later, he was sent to the bench with Arkansas trailing just 31-26. He sat out for the remainder of the half, and Duke outscored Arkansas 14-7 during that streak.

Williams was key in stemming a run from Duke earlier in the first half by drawing a pair of charges and scoring five quick runs in 30 seconds. Without him on the floor, the Razorbacks couldn’t stem another run and entered the locker room with 12 points. The 6-foot-10 sophomore was Arkansas’ best player on Saturday, finishing with 19 points, 10 rebounds and two steals. But the time he missed at the end of the first half opened the door for Duke to take control of the game.

Duke’s Mark Williams shines again

Duke point guard Jeremy Roach showcased his sophomore year at the NCAA Tournament. But his classmate Mark Williams also made great strides in the program’s second year, and he delivered again on Saturday.

Mark Williams scored 10 of his 12 points in the first half and had a double-double with 11:10 left in the game. He was 6 of 6 from the floor and helped Duke to a 46-34 advantage in second chance points. The performance simply continued a strong NCAA Tournament run for the 7-footer. Williams scored 15, 15 and 16 points respectively in each of Duke’s first three tournament games and was also a defensive threat.

Williams blocked 13 shots in Duke’s first three games in the Big Dance, and he added three more to that tally against Arkansas to tie Shane Battier’s 2001 school record for most blocks in a single. NCAA Tournament. Of course, Duke won it all in 2001, which meant Battier had six games to set that bar. Williams will have at least five to try to set the new record after helping the Blue Devils win on Saturday.

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