Duke frustrates McDermott and sends Creighton out of the NCAA tournament
PHILADELPHIA – Doug McDermott scuffled for open looks and usually missed when he did get them.
He won't get another chance this season to make up for it with Creighton. Now, the question looms for McDermott if he'll play for the Bluejays again
Rasheed Sulaimon scored 21 points, Seth Curry had 17 and the No. 2 seed Blue Devils beat seventh-seeded Creighton 66-50 on Sunday night to advance to the NCAA round of 16 for the fourth time in five years.
A year after they lost their NCAA tournament opener, the Blue Devils (29-5) return to the regional semifinals for the 27th time. They'll play No. 3 seed Michigan State (27-8) on Friday in Indianapolis.
Creighton (28-8) went cold and never made a serious run in the second half. McDermott scored 21 points but made only four baskets.
McDermott, an All-American forward, has to decide if he'll return for his senior season or declare for the NBA draft.
"We discussed it six weeks ago and decided to wait until the season was over," his coach, and father, Greg McDermott said. "We'll let this all sink in and when the time is right, we'll sit down. He'll do what's best for Doug. He's earned that right."
McDermott missed 11 of 16 from the field and made only 1 of 4 3-pointers. He made all 12 free throws to keep his final scoring total from shambles.
"They did a great job on me, really physical, switched on every screen making it frustrating," McDermott said. "I missed a lot of shots I usually make, so that was unfortunate.
With McDermott slumping, the Bluejays were knocked out in the third round by an ACC team for the second straight season. They played their final game under the Missouri Valley Conference banner and move on next season to the Big East.
"They're a big reason Creighton moved to the Big East," Greg McDermott said of his team.
The Blue Devils will have to silence the whistle to keep the run alive. Mason Plumlee, Josh Hairston and Ryan Kelly battled foul trouble all game long that could have doomed the Blue Devils. Throw in 39 percent shooting, and the Blue Devils are far from playing their best in March.
While other high-seeded teams like Gonzaga and Georgetown made early exits, the Blue Devils are moving on to Indy.
"It was just so difficult," coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "It was the best defense we played all year."
Florida Gulf Coast beat San Diego State 81-71 in the opener in Philadelphia that had the crowd of more than 20,000 buzzing after the upset win.
Duke's victory could not match it in excitement or intensity.
Foul trouble hounded the Blue Devils from the opening tip. Plumlee hit the bench after he was whistled for his fourth foul early in the second half.
Hairston picked up his fourth foul at the 15:21 mark, allowing Ethan Wragge to convert a three-point play that inched the Bluejays closer.
Curry came right back with a 3-pointer and followed with a layup to make it 39-30. Plumlee and Kelly, each with four fouls, returned to the game as Krzyzewski clearly wanted his best players in there to try and put away Creighton.
"Seth got a couple of big ones for us," Krzyzewski said.
The usually sure-shooting Bluejays never found their groove.
Gregory Echenique had no chance on a wayward alley-oop lob that knocked off the backboard, and he fumbled the ball the next time down. Amile Jefferson scored off the second turnover for an 11-point lead. Hundreds of Duke fans stood in appreciation, and the program's 2,000th career win was in the bag.
Hairston was called for his fifth foul at the midway point of the second half, leaving the Blue Devils without a key frontcourt reserve. Plumlee fouled out with just under 3 minutes left.
But the Bluejays clanged brick after brick. The missed 17 of 19 3-pointers and shot only 30 percent from the field. McDermott, their All-American, was 4 of 16 and 12 of 12 from the free throw line.
McDermott gamely did his best to keep the Bluejays afloat by getting to the line. He hit two with 7:29 left to cut it to nine but went more than 18 minutes without a field goal. Without his 3-point shooting keeping Duke's defense honest — Krzyzewski called him one of the best offensive players he's seen in the last decade — the Bluejays were sunk.
"It was a tough way to go out," McDermott said. "It's hard letting the seniors down tonight. It doesn't take away from the last two years."
Curry's second 3-pointer pushed it back to 11 and Sulaimon followed with another 3 to wrap it up.
Plumlee finished with 10 points and the Blue Devils made 21 of 28 free throws.
The Bluejays missed 12 of their first 15 shots, then missed 10 of 13 to open the second half. They lost in the third round to North Carolina last year and talked all season about wanting to get back to this point. They would go no farther. The Bluejays haven't advanced to a regional semifinal since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985.