March Madness: Duke outslugs No. 1 seed Houston 54-51 to set up Elite 8 showdown against NC State

NC State pulls off upset, advancing to Elite Eight
March Madness: Duke outslugs No. 1 seed Houston 54-51 to set up Elite 8 showdown against NC State
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Saturday, March 30, 2024

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Duke answered every question about its toughness on Friday, winning a bruising battle against No. 1 seed Houston 54-51 on Friday night in the Sweet Sixteen.

The No.4 seed Duke Blue Devils faced their most physical opponent and countered every blow with ones of their own.

The win sets up what earlier this season seemed an improbable Elite Eight matchup against No. 11 seed NC State. It will be the third meeting this year between the old Tobacco Road rivals.

Duke's Kyle Filipowski looks to pass against Houston's defense on Friday night at the Sweet 16 in Dallas.
Brandon Wade

Kyle Filipowski had 16 points and nine rebounds to lead Duke past Houston, which played the final 26 minutes Friday night without All-American point guard Jamal Shead after he turned his right ankle.

Even with Shead on the bench, the fourth-seeded Blue Devils had to overcome a physical defense that has been one of the best in the country all season.

Duke's Kyle Filipowski shoots against Houston on Friday at the Sweet 16 on Friday night in Dallas.
Tony Gutierrez

They won despite a season-low in points and advanced to the South Region final on Sunday against the Wolfpack.

Houston's Jamal Shead reacts after injuring his ankle against Duke.
Tony Gutierrez

Shead left the game with 6:38 left in the first half after his right foot turned awkwardly on a drive while missing a contested layup. By then, he had been on the floor under the basket for about 15 seconds while play continued at the other end until Houston got the ball after a Duke miss.

Houston's Ja'Vier Francis goes up for a basket against Duke's Kyle Filipowski on Friday at the Sweet 16 in Dallas.
Tony Gutierrez

The senior guard, who has been part of 120 wins at Houston in his four seasons, reached for his foot when he went down and then pulled his jersey up over his face.

Duke's Jared McCain comes back up the court after a basket against Houston on Friday night at the Sweet 16 in Dallas.
Tony Gutierrez

He walked gingerly past the Houston bench and to the locker room after getting tended to by an athletic trainer. He sat on the bench throughout the second half and limped off the court after the Cougars (32-5) became the second No. 1 seed knocked out - a night after North Carolina lost to Alabama.

When Shead exited, the Blue Devils trailed 16-10. They took their first lead when Tyrese Proctor made two free throws to make it 21-20 with 2:46 left in the first half - and they never trailed again, even after L.J. Cryer banked in a short floater at the buzzer to get Houston within 23-21.

Duke never led by more than six points, and Houston still had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds. Emanuel Sharp's tough 3-point try over Proctor was no good. There were only 0.8 seconds left on the clock when Cougars guard Mylik Wilson was out of bounds on the floor when trying to get the rebound.

And now Duke is going to its 24th Elite Eight, matching Kansas for the third-most times getting that far in March Madness - trailing Kentucky (38) and North Carolina (29).

NC State fans in Raleigh celebrate men's and women's victories in the Elite Eight.

NC State 67, Marquette 58

NC State's memorable run continued Friday night as the Wolfpack held off a furious Marquette rally to win 67-58 and advance to the Elite Eight.

DJ Horne scored 19 points to help keep NC State's magical postseason going and help the Wolfpack reach the Elite Eight for the first time since 1986.

NC State's Casey Morsell dunks on most of Marquette's team Friday at the Sweet 16 in Dallas.
Julio Cortez

"It's magical, but I'm going to say we knew this from day one," said Horne, whose team lost seven of nine to finish the regular season. "We knew we were a good team. It was all a matter of just locking in and understanding our roles, and no better time to be doing that than now."

NC State players celebrate after dispatching Marquette in the Sweet 16.
Brandon Wade

Casey Morsell added 15 points and Mohamed Diarra had 11 points and 15 rebounds for the Wolfpack, who have eight consecutive victories since the start of the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament, which they had to win even to be a part of March Madness.

NC State's DJ Burns Jr. drives against Marquette's Oso Ighodaro on Friday at the Sweet 16 in Dallas
Tony Gutierrez

On the 50th anniversary of N.C. State's first national championship in 1974 - when the Wolfpack beat the Golden Eagles for the title - it's beginning to look a lot like the second one in 1983.

N.C. State (25-14), the 11th seed in the South Region, will face top-seeded Houston or No. 4 seed Duke on Sunday for a spot in the Final Four.

The last time the Wolfpack went that far 41 years ago, they had to win the ACC Tournament before the late Jim Valvano sprinted around the court trying to find someone to hug after a still-talked-about upset of high-flying Houston for the title.

NC State's Ben Middlebrooks is pressured by Marquette's Ben Gold and others on Friday at the Sweet 16 in Dallas.
Tony Gutierrez

The lower-key Kevin Keatts is in charge of the latest unlikely crew, with a big personality between the lines in 6-foot-9, 275-pound forward DJ Burns Jr., whose spinning layup and five assists helped the Wolfpack build a 13-point halftime lead.

"We don't have to talk about that history because we celebrate it the entire time," Keatts said. "It's been talked about since I've been here, and it's going to be talked about as long as we ever are going to remember."

The No. 2 seed Golden Eagles (27-10) couldn't overcome an unsightly shooting performance in their first trip to the Sweet 16 since 2013. They went 4 of 31 (12.9%) from 3-point range and shot 33.3% overall.

"We talked about being very stingy defensively," Keatts said. "Marquette's a really good basketball team. They do a great job. I thought we were better defensively."

At sports bars across the Triangle, fans gathered to watch NC State and Duke try to advance to the Elite Eight.

Kam Jones scored 20 points and point guard Tyler Kolek had 17 points and 10 rebounds as a Big East team lost for the first time in eight games in this tournament.

Third-year coach Shaka Smart is 0-2 in the NCAA Tournament in Texas with Marquette - including North Carolina's first-round blowout two years ago - after failing to win a tournament game in six seasons leading the Longhorns.

"Our mentality is even if we have a tough shooting night, find a way to win anyway," Smart said. "And we weren't quite good enough on the defensive end to get that done with the shooting night that we had."

N.C. State found the same balance that led to five players leading the team in scoring during the current winning streak. Horne did it for the third time.

The Wolfpack comes in riding a seven-game win streak.

Horne answered two brief Marquette runs with 3-pointers, blowing a kiss to the Golden Eagles fans behind their team's bench after the first and gesturing toward his supporters near the N.C. State bench after the second.

Marquette was within eight when Jones missed an open 3-pointer with six minutes to go. The Golden Eagles couldn't get closer than six after trailing by 16 early in the second half.

The finish of the first half said it all as the Golden Eagles finished with a season low in points.

After Oso Ighodaro missed a dunk, Marquette got the rebound, only for David Joplin to miss a 3 to drop to 0 of 5 from deep before the break.

Joplin was fouled on a 3-pointer with 2.2 seconds remaining in the first half and missed all three free throws.

The Wolfpack's eight-game win streak is the longest of Keatts' tenure.

"People still don't think we're supposed to be here, that we're going to go further," said Burns, who had four points and seven assists. "We're going to keep trying to crash the party."

Alabama 89, North Carolina 87

North Carolina's NCAA tournament run ended Thursday night in an 89-87 loss to Alabama.

It was a scintillating game, played in Los Angeles at a high pace with plenty of drama. In the end, the Crimson Tide simply outlasted the Tar Heels.

Grant Nelson converted a go-ahead three-point play with 38 seconds remaining to lift Alabama past the top-seeded Tar Heels.

Nelson finished with a season-high 24 points, 19 in the second half, and he blocked RJ Davis' attempt at a tying layup after giving Alabama the lead. Rylan Griffen added 19 points, tying his career high with five 3-pointers, and Aaron Estrada also scored 19 for the fourth-seeded Crimson Tide (24-11).

After Nelson blocked Davis' shot with 25 seconds left, Davis furiously dribbled around before missing a layup and the Tar Heels got called for a shot-clock violation with 8 seconds left. They were forced to foul, sending Nelson to the line. He calmly made both for an 89-85 lead.

Armando Bacot scored inside with 1 second left, leaving North Carolina trailing 89-87. The Tar Heels fouled Nelson again with 0.9 seconds left. He missed both and time expired on the Tar Heels.

Bacot finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds in his final game for UNC, which ended the season 29-8. Cormac Ryan had 17 points and made five 3-pointers and Davis had 16 points.

For Davis, it ended a splendid season in a nightmarish fashion. The ACC Player of the Year had his worst shooting night in memory, missing all nine of his 3-point attempts and making just 4-of-20 from the floor. Half his points came at the free throw line, where he made 8-of-9.

At times, UNC coach Hubert Davis looked like he was still playing for his alma mater, where he starred from 1988-92 under Hall of Famer Dean Smith. Davis dashed up and down the sideline in his white sneakers, gesturing and yelling and taking his glasses on and off as he lived each play through his team.

UNC's Armando Bacot shoots amid an Army of Alabama defenders on Thursday in the Sweet 16 in Los Angeles.
Ashley Landis

Alabama trailed 54-46 at halftime. Nelson and Sam Walters combined to score nine of Alabama's first 13 points to take a 59-57 lead.

The Tar Heels struggled early when big man Bacot picked up his third foul five minutes in, but they tied it at 59-all on a basket by Harrison Ingram.

"I thought in the second half, we came out a little flat," Bacot said.

Nelson, Estrada and Griffen teamed to score 21 of Alabama's next 23 points that produced an 82-77 lead. Nelson ran off seven in a row, capped by a 3-pointer.

Carolina scored eight in a row, including six straight by Davis, to take its last lead, 85-82.

North Carolina guard Elliot Cadeau is fouled by Alabama forward Mouhamed Dioubate on Thursday at the Sweet 16 in Los Angeles.
Ryan Sun

The Tar Heels opened the game on a 19-9 run for their largest lead of a half in which there were eight ties and seven lead changes.

Mark Sears went on a tear, scoring nine points - hitting a 3-pointer and turning to blow a kiss to the crowd - to help the Tide lead 39-34. Sears finished with 18 points.

North Carolina regained control with a 20-7 spurt to end the half ahead 54-46. Ryan and Ingram had two 3-pointers each and Bacot dunked, slithered around Mohamed Wague for a layup and scored off his own steal.

"At the end of the day, it boiled down to them making more shots than we did," Bacot said.


Alabama moves to the Elite Eight to face another ACC opponent in Clemson. Both Alabama and Clemson are in the Elite Eight for only the second time in their school histories.

The Tide face sixth-seeded Clemson on Saturday for a berth in the Final Four.

The Tigers got 18 points from Chase Hunter and converted a three-point play with 25.7 seconds remaining as Clemson beat Arizona 77-72 in the first West Region semifinal on Thursday night.

Clemson players celebrate after eliminating Arizona on Thursday night.
Ryan Sun

PJ Hall added 17 points for the Tigers.

"We've battled a lot of things. This is a great moment for Clemson basketball," Coach Brad Brownell said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.