Published May 02, 2016
Houston, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - Justise Winslow was the best player on the court in the second semifinal of the South Region Friday night, carrying Duke with 21 points and 10 rebounds in a 63-57 victory over Utah.
"Justise made some big time plays and timely baskets," Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "He kept us in a position where we were in control."
The top-seeded Blue Devils were held to 14 points below their season average but benefited from a cold-shooting Utah team that connected on just 35.0 percent from the field and committed 15 turnovers.
Duke (32-4) advanced to another Elite Eight despite a pedestrian night from Jahlil Okafor, who was a virtual non-factor with six points and eight boards.
Tyus Jones scored nine of his 15 points from the foul line, and Quinn Cook added 11 points as the Blue Devils set up a potential shootout against second-seeded Gonzaga on Sunday.
Delon Wright, Utah's leading scorer, was limited to 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting, while fellow senior Dallin Bachynski was held scoreless following his 11-point outburst in the first half.
"It was one of those games where we weren't clicking as a team," Wright said. "It was tough."
Jakob Poeltl held his own against Okafor on the defensive end, but he too was relatively quiet with a 10-point, eight-rebound showing. Brandon Taylor scored a team-high 15 points that went for naught.
The fifth-seeded Utes (26-9), playing in their first Sweet 16 in 10 years, came out cold and did not warm up until it was too late. They made one final rally with a 9-0 run that trimmed a 15-point deficit down to 49-43 when Jordan Loveridge found Poeltl for an uncontested layup with over four minutes left.
Winslow, though, rattled in a runner while being fouled the next time down, and Duke held on down the stretch with solid free throw shooting.
Like the opener at the Houston Texans' stadium, both teams struggled out of the gate and combined to shoot 2-of-18 from the field before the first media timeout.
Duke started taking control after Wright picked up his third foul and was sent to the bench with 4:57 left in the opening half.
Okafor spun in a layup to cap an 8-0 run that gave the Blue Devils their largest lead of the half at 27-17, but Bachynski scored the final five points to cut Utah's deficit in half heading to the locker room. The 7-footer nearly tripled his season average in the opening half and had the Utes within striking distance despite their .286 field goal percentage and nine turnovers.
It was still a five-point game before Duke began pulling away midway through the second half. Winslow made 3-pointers on consecutive possessions, and an 8-0 run, highlighted by Amile Jefferson's dunk over Bachynski, gave the Blue Devils a healthy 49-34 lead with under nine minutes to play.
The Blue Devils reached the Elite Eight for the 20th time ... When Duke won the national title in 2010, it took the South Region as a No. 1 seed in this stadium ... Duke won its first two games of the tourney against Robert Morris and San Diego State by an average of 24 points ... Utah's first two victims of the tourney were Stephen F. Austin and Georgetown ... The Utes have not reached the Elite Eight since their run to the title game in 1998.