OKLAHOMA CITY — The third-seeded Blue Devils’ defense was dominant at times in the first half, but the No. 2 Aggies forged a lead in the period’s last five minutes and leads at half 29-25.
- Chante Black and Abby Waner have five rebounds each, as Duke is dominating the glass, 23-15. When Duke doesn’t rebound, it doesn’t win. We’ll see if the corollary proves true.
- Duke’s defense has been stifling tonight, forcing bad Texas A&M shots to beat the shot clock. But as good as the defense was, the offense was that bad. Duke has 14 team turnovers and the Aggies have garnered eight steals.
- The Blue Devils simply aren’t shooting that, um, much tonight. They posted a 47.8-percent shooting clip for the half, which head coach Joanne P. McCallie would take any night. But Duke took just 23 shots, compared to the Aggies’ 34. Texas A&M is shooting 35.3 percent.
- Duke is 3-for-8 from the free-throw line. Black is 2-of-5.
- Still, Duke has not made a 3-pointer. Only Waner has taken a long-range shot, and she is 0-for-3. All three were considerably deeper than the 3-point line.
–by Ben Cohen
OKLAHOMA CITY — Here are some initial thoughts from press row as Duke’s 7 p.m. Sweet 16 tip against Texas A&M approaches:
- Duke is wearing its black jerseys for the third time this year. The other occasions? Losses to North Carolina in Chapel Hill and in the ACC Tournament.
- The Aggies’ band and D.U.M.B. are going back and forth right now as the crowd begins to file in. The early verdict? Texas A&M, in a landslide. Duke fans should hope the actual basketball game isn’t as one-sided; the Duke players even gave an A&M trumpeter a standing ovation before after a nice improvised diddy.
- I’m currently sitting on my computer, watching Davidson-Kansas on March Madness on Demand, and directly next to a TV monitor that will show the ESPN feed of this game. Pretty cool.
Back with more as the game progresses…
–by Ben Cohen
Earlier in the week, columnists Andrew Yaffe and Matthew Iles alluded to their new favorite team, Davidson. Thanks mostly to sophomore stud Stephen Curry‘s 70 combined points, the 10th-seeded Wildcats knocked off Gonzaga and Georgetown to advance to the Sweet 16 and add even more fans to their bandwagon. Duke beat Davidson in Charlotte in the regular season, and Duke students seem to have an affinity for the small private school about two hours down the road.
Now they have another reason to support Davidson: the school is subsidizing tickets, travel and hotel fees for any student interested in taking a bus up to Detroit for the Wildcats’ Sweet 16 game with Wisconsin. And by “subsidizing,” I mean they’re covering all of the approximately $560 charge. Pretty sweet deal, especially if Curry shoots the lights out and Davidson continues its Cinderella run.
There are many envious souls on Duke’s campus right now.
–by Ben Cohen
On the same day that Harris Interactive released a poll decreeing Duke the most popular team in the country, The Washington Post’s Dan Steinberg finished his two-part series on why Duke is hated. Of course, the Blue Devils are relevant in Steinberg’s D.C. Sports blog because the men’s basketball team lost in Washington D.C. over the weekend and the women advanced to the Sweet 16 from College Park, Md.
So which is it? Is Duke loved or hated? Which would you rather have?
–by Ben Cohen
It seems that recently, whenever Duke travels to road games even at neutral venues, the crowd has two favorite teams: the local team, or whoever is playing Duke. Washington D.C. fans rallied behind West Virginia as the Mountaineers upset the Duke men in the NCAA Tournament’s second round, and the crowd at Maryland was decidedly anti-Duke for the women’s team’s first two NCAA Tournament games, both wins.
According to a new Harris Interactive poll, though, Duke is the most popular college basketball team in the country. After being replaced by North Carolina in 2007, Duke regained the top spot it held from 2003-2006. Rounding out the top five: North Carolina, Indiana, UCLA and, um, Iowa. Not sure how the Hawkeyes slipped in there with the traditional powers, but so it goes.
The women’s team jumped three places from 2007, finishing fourth this year behind Tennessee, Connecticut, Iowa, Maryland and Stanford. Again with Iowa. Skewed polling! Conspiracy!
–by Ben Cohen
Duke advanced to the Sweet 16 for the 11th straight year Tuesday night with a 67-59 win over Arizona State at the Comcast Center in College Park, Md. Chante Black was marvelous in the win, scoring a career-high 26 points and grabbing 13 rebounds, part of duke’s 42-31 edge on the glass. When the Blue Devils rebound, they can be as good as anyone in the country. When they don’t…well, they’re a mid-level top-25 team that loses badly to elite opponents.
Duke will have the chance to prove their mettle again next Sunday against second-seeded Texas A&M in Oklahoma City. The Aggies were No. 17 in the penultimate AP poll of the season, but catapulted to a No. 2 seed when they won the Big 12 Tournament, part of an 11-game winning streak they’re still riding.
We’ve been reading The Washington Post’s Dan Steinberg‘s insightful blog the last few days as he’s covered the NCAA Tournament, both men’s and women’s. He’s currently in College Park, Md., the site of Duke’s opening-round games. He had an interesting post yesterday about the Maryland fans supporting Murray State in Duke’s first-round win Sunday night, analyzing why Duke is so despised. (In fact, The Chronicle’s Greg Beaton wrote a similar story about why Greg Paulus is The Most Hated Player in College Basketball for last week’s NCAA Tournament guide. If you have the time, check it out.)
Today, he’s turned his attention to Karima Christmas‘ sneaker art. Check out the photos and watch for the kicks tonight as No. 3 Duke takes on No. 6 Arizona State to advance to the Sweet 16 in Oklahoma City.