No. 1 overall seed Duke is moving on into the Sweet Sixteen after surviving a against No. 9 seed UCF on Sunday. The Blue Devils advanced in the bracket after coming out on the right side of a couple of key momentum swings, calls (or non-calls) and some lucky rolls. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski even admitted as much afterwards that luck played a role in his team getting the win.
For the Knights, the ending will be something they will play over and over in their minds, wondering what could have been. Let's have a close look, now, at the final stretch from Sunday's game that no one will soon forget.
While the game was filled with all kinds of highlights and moments, the real turn started with just under two minutes remaining. UCF had a 74-70 lead, and in transition following a missed 3-point attempt by Duke's Tre Jones, attempted an alley-oop that would have put the Knights up six points. The dunk attempt was unsuccessful, and the Blue Devils immediately turned that into a 3-pointer with 1:43 remaining on the other end of the floor.
A pair of UCF free throws made it 76-73, but the next major blow to the Knights came on Duke's final possession. With 14 seconds remaining, Zion Williamson drove hard to the basket and was fouled, leading to Tacko Fall fouling out in the process. Easily, the biggest storyline of the game was the battle between Tacko and Zion, with the matchup. Fall boldly proclaimed prior to the game that he wouldn't get posterized by Zion, and while technically he might have been right since he blocked the Duke star on multiple plays, Williamson made the right call in attacking Fall with the game on the line. Although some might argue that the play should have been a charge on Zion -- he got the call.
What ensued next, though, is every bit as controversial -- if not more so. Zion missed the and-one, but star teammate RJ Barrett grabbed the rebound and hit the put-back to give the Blue Devils a 77-76 lead. If Fall was still in the game, things might have gone differently. Barrett also appeared to get away with a bit of a shove in the back. In any case, there was no call and UCF was left with one possession for the game with under 10 seconds to play.
It was hard to be upset at the looks the Knights got coming out of their timeout, including the potential game-winner by Aubrey Dawkins, son of UCF coach Johnny Dawkins. However, Dawkins couldn't quite get the roll he needed on the put-back and Duke escaped with the win. It was the right play coming out of the timeout and the right follow-up. The Knights just didn't get the friendly roll.
There were 13 total lead changes in the game including three in the final minute. There have been some complaints that the tournament thus far has been underwhelming. However, this was easily the best game from start to finish, and it's going to be hard for any game to top it the rest of the tourney.