“Tennessee Triumphs Over Duke, 65-52, Advancing to Sweet 16”
The Tennessee Volunteers made a statement in the NCAA Tournament, defeating the favored Duke Blue Devils 65-52. This unexpected triumph has propelled another underdog into the Sweet 16.
Duke’s young team, with four talented freshmen starters, appeared primed for a strong tournament run. However, Tennessee’s seasoned players – starting four seniors – made the difference. Tennessee, who entered the tournament after losing six of their last 10 games, has rediscovered their identity as a robust, defense-oriented team.
Olivier Nkamhoua matched his career-high score, netting 27 points for Tennessee, with 13 of those points scored consecutively during a pivotal second-half moment. The fourth-seeded Volunteers conquered Duke 65-52 on Saturday, earning their place in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2019. Santiago Vescovi contributed with 14 points and five assists, helping Tennessee (25-10) halt Duke’s 10-game winning streak.
Tennessee’s Aggressive Play Overwhelms Duke
Duke struggled against Tennessee’s assertive approach throughout the game. The Volunteers aimed to intimidate Duke’s Kyle Filipowski and pressure guards Jeremy Roach and Tyrese Proctor. Tennessee’s Uros Plavsic was charged with two offensive fouls in the first four minutes, both against Filipowski, who later sustained a minor facial injury.
Proctor faced difficulties inbounding the ball, while Roach dealt with foul trouble and turnovers. “We’re always ready for a dogfight,” Nkamhoua stated. “When we get people playing our game, that’s an advantage for us.”
Tennessee showed better ball control compared to their first-round win against Louisiana-Lafayette, with only nine turnovers – their lowest since point guard Zakai Zeigler’s season-ending injury. Proctor led Duke with 16 points, while Roach and Filipowski added 13 each.
First-Year Coach Scheyer’s Journey Ends
Duke’s first-year coach Jon Scheyer, who replaced Mike Krzyzewski, faced elimination after just two NCAA Tournament games. Tennessee’s physical “bully ball” style proved too much for the fifth-seeded Blue Devils (27-9). “We want to be physical,” said Tennessee coach Rick Barnes, emphasizing that their best performances come from that style of play.
Nkamhoua’s powerful slam with 1:15 left on the clock sealed Tennessee’s victory, eliciting cheers from the Volunteers’ fans and sending Duke supporters to the exits. Tennessee will now face either Florida Atlantic or Fairleigh Dickinson on Thursday at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
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