GREENSBORO, N.C, (AP) — Duke’s recent formula for success has focused around playing solid defense and rebounding.
If the Blue Devils can score the way they did on Thursday, they could be headed for another deep run in the NCAA Tournament.
Kyle Filipowski overcame an early ankle injury to score 22 points, Tyrese Proctor added 11 points and 10 assists, and No. 21 Duke cruised to a 96-69 win over Pittsburgh in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament quarterfinals. Duke posted season highs in points scored and shooting percentage (62%), and made 13 3-pointers behind an ACC Tournament-record 27 assists.
Dereck Lively II had 13 points and Mark Mitchell added 12 for the fourth-seeded Blue Devils, who bolted to a 48-32 halftime lead en route to their seventh straight win. It’s the longest active streak of any ACC team.
Filipowski said the win sends a message.
“We’re coming,” Filipowski said. “We’re coming for whoever’s in our way. People don’t respect us still. We have that chip on our shoulder. No matter who we’re facing, we still have something to prove to them.”
Pitt coach Jeff Capel said Duke has the potential to turn some heads in March.
“I do think they can make a run,” Capel said. “They have size, they have athleticism. They have really gotten better defensively and if they shoot the ball the way they did today, especially from three, that makes them even more difficult to guard.”
Nike Sibande had 17 points and Guillermo Diaz Graham had 14 for Pitt (22-11).
The Blue Devils (24-8) scored on their first four possessions, bolting to a 12-0 lead with Filipowski knocking down 3s from the right corner and left wing.
“The start we got off to was incredibly important to us,” Duke coach Jon Scheyer said.
Filipowski drew gasps from Duke fans in the crowd when he appeared to twist his left ankle after banging into Pitt’s Blake Hinson less than three minutes in. He had to be helped to the bench, but returned about six minutes later after getting taped and scored 14 points before the break.
Filipowski only played 15 minutes, leaving with 11 1/2 minutes remaining with Duke safely ahead by 32 points.
He said he was OK after the game as he spoke to reporters with his leg elevated on a chair and wrapped in ice.
“We will get him seen when we get to the hotel, but he looked pretty good to me when he got back out there,” Scheyer said.
Duke shot just 6 of 32 from 3-point range over its past two games, but matched that output in the first half with Filipowski making half of those. Overall, the Blue Devils were 13 of 18 from long range.
Even Lively joined in the fun, when the 7-foot-1 center known for his shot-blocking drained a 3 from the left corner to stretch the lead to 29 less than four minutes into the second half.
Pitt: The Panthers entered the ACC tournament in pretty good shape to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2016 — and the first time under Capel. The Panthers will have to put this one behind them quickly and regroup after a disappointing showing. “We have to flip the switch and we still have more basketball to play and we still have our chance to write our story,” Pitt guard Jamarius Burton said.
Duke: This was a dominant effort from everyone on the Blue Devils roster, and should raise some eyebrows from around the country as they begin to march toward the NCAA Tournament. With a strong showing in the ACC Tournament, it’s possible Duke may get an opportunity to play close to home at the Greensboro Coliseum.
Pitt: Await their NCAA Tournament fate.
Duke: Moves on to face top-seeded and 14th-ranked Miami in Friday’s semifinals. The two teams split the season series with Duke winning 68-66 on Jan. 21 at Cameron Indoor Stadium and losing 81-59 at Miami on Feb. 6.
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