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Mar 23, 2024 11:13 am

Put up your Dukes: Blue Devils expect fight from JMU

james madison dukes

NEW YORK — Duke has made 28 appearances in the Sweet 16, reached the Final Four 17 times and won five national championships.

Yet it may be the team nicknamed the Dukes that takes the court with the most confidence Sunday.

Duke will look to return to the Sweet 16 and James Madison will attempt to get there for the first time when the two teams clash in a South Region second-round game at Barclays Center.

Both teams earned convincing wins Friday night, when fourth-seeded Duke pulled away from 13th-seeded Vermont in the second half of a 64-47 victory and 12th-seeded James Madison never trailed in a 72-61 upset of fifth-seeded Wisconsin.

“My family traveled all the way from Atlanta and they booked (hotels) all the way to Monday,” said James Madison swingman Terrence Edwards Jr., who scored a team-high 14 points. “So it was only right that we get this win today, so we can just fill out their trip.”

James Madison (32-3) was playing for the first time since beating Arkansas State 91-71 in the Sun Belt Conference title game on March 11. It picked up where it left off by racing out to a 17-point first-half lead and forcing Wisconsin to commit 13 turnovers in the first 20 minutes.

Wisconsin pulled within six points with a little under nine minutes left before the Dukes — who share the nation’s lead in victories with defending national champion UConn and have the longest active winning streak at 14 games — scored 20 of the game’s final 35 points to reach the second round for the first time since 1983.

“Our coaches kept staying on us (and said) don’t let off the gas,” Edwards said of James Madison, which trailed at the half in three conference wins. “I think we were doing that a lot in conference play. We kind of got bored a little bit. So coming into this tournament, we knew we were going to play teams where you can’t do that type of stuff.

“So that’s what you all saw tonight: Just us putting a full 40 minutes together. See y’all Sunday.”

Duke (25-8) will be trying to avoid missing the Sweet 16 in consecutive NCAA Tournaments for the first time since 2007-08 — when head coach Jon Scheyer was a freshman and sophomore under Mike Krzyzewski — after leading for the final 34-plus minutes Friday.

Four players scored in double figures for Duke on a night in which second-team All-American Kyle Filipowski — who entered the game averaging 17.1 points per contest — scored three points while hoisting just one shot. Filipowski added 12 rebounds and shared the team lead with four assists while finishing with three blocks and two steals.

“I thought he affected the game — his passing and rebounding was great,” said Duke forward Mark Mitchell, who scored 15 points to share the team lead with Jared McCain. “Just did what it took to win. He played good defense for most of the game and just affected the game every way.”

Vermont pulled within 36-34 with 16:30 left in the game before McCain sank a 3-pointer for Duke, which maintained a two-possession lead the rest of the way and led by double digits for the final 3:57.

The 47 points were the fewest surrendered by the Blue Devils since an 86-43 win over Georgia Tech on Jan. 28, 2023.

“The beginning of the second half, (Vermont) made a great run,” Scheyer said. “I thought our response is what I’m really proud of. Literally, I could go down the line with each of these guys that stepped up and made big shots, big rebounds, but really big defensive stops to hold them to 47 points.”

–Jerry Beach, Field Level Media

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