Final Score: Arizona 93 Duke 77
Derrick Williams had turned in last minute heroics in each of Arizona's opening weekend wins in the NCAA Tournament, but against West Region top seed Duke Thursday night in Anaheim, he wasted no time, turning in a first half one man show that didn't have the Wildcats ahead, but did keep them in the game when the Blue Devils, and especially Kyle Singler, played spectacularly, taking a 44-38 lead.
But as TBS analyst Charles Barkley noted, the ‘Cats didn't get him any help. That changed after halftime, though. Arizona coach Sean Miller and the rest of his Arizona rotation had gone to school on the Blue Devils while Williams was carrying them, and made defensive adjustments that throttled Duke in the second half.
The ‘Cats also had enough energy left in their 10 man rotation to dominate the boards, out-rebounding the Blue Devils 25-9 in the second half.
The result was a 19-2 run that not only brought Arizona from behind, but sent them on their way to a blowout win over the defending Nation Champion Blue Devils in the "Sweet 16" game that saw the Wildcats hold a double digit lead the last 12 minutes of the game.Singler, a Medford, OR, native, saw Williams' opener, and raised him, with his two three pointers topping Williams' initial 5 points for the Wildcats.
Both teams put their fate in their best player hands early, and Singler and Williams did not disappoint, as both were already in double figures before the second media timeout. Williams' dunk almost 7 minutes into the game that made it 14-13 Duke will make it onto various highlight shows, but as Miller rotated his players, Williams, included, the Blue Devils opened a 17-13 lead.
Arizona hung close, but an 8-0 Duke run opened a 31-20 Blue Devil lead. Singler and Kyrie Irving off the Blue Devil bench both had 14 points by halftime. Duke held a 17-10 edge in rebounding.
Williams was relentless though, and his fifth three pointer of the first half (out of 6 attempts) gave him 25 points, and kept Arizona within 6 points.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said "We are playing well, but Williams is incredible. He's the difference so far."
Andre Dawkins answered with a three pointer, sparking a 5-0 Blue Devil answer, but LaMont "MoMo" Jones, who had been mostly limited to serving up assists, tied it on a run-out with a jumper for a 53-53 tie, after Duke had led since the three minute mark from the start of the game.
Jones' free throws the next time down the floor gave the ‘Cats the lead, and they never looked back. Eventually, the Arizona run went to 13-0, as Jones had the "Mo", and a basket for a 60-53 lead at the 14 minute mark, before Singler could break a 4 minute scoreless skid for Duke.
Another 6-0 Arizona run opened the game's first double digit lead, 66-55 before the second media timeout of the second half.
Hill made it a 12 point Arizona lead with 9 minutes left, and Williams did again, getting to the 30 point, 10 rebound level with just over 8 minutes left, putting the ‘Cats up 73-61. Jamelle Horne's dunk pushed the lead to 14 points with 7 minutes left, and Hill upped it to 17 points with 4 minutes left.
Duke cleared the bench with 2 minutes left, trailing 91-74, and Arizona ran the clock out for a 16 point win.
Williams finished with a monstrous 32 point, 13 rebound double double, a career scoring high. Jones added 16 more points, all but 2 of which came in the second half. Hill added 13 points, 10 after the break.
Irving was the only Blue Devil as affective in the second half as the first, and finished with 28 points. Singler had only 4 points after the Arizona defensive intensity was turned up, and finished his college career with an 18 point game.
Nolan Smith had only 8 points for Duke, and made only 3 of 14 shots, and none from three point range, as the ‘Cats frustrated him all game long.
Duke, the ACC Conference regular season and tournament Champions, finished the season 32-5.
Arizona (30-7), the regular season Pac-10 Champions, have been on fire since losing their Conference Tournament Championship game to Washington 77-75 in overtime, and take on Connecticut (29-9), who finished tied for 9th. thru 11th. in the Big East, but won the conference's automatic bid by winning 5 straight game in the Conference Tournament, on Saturday.