Duke basketball rides breakout star into quarterfinals of ACC Tournament

Duke basketball freshman center Mark Williams (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Duke basketball freshman center Mark Williams (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /

Duke basketball rode its freshman breakout star to an ACC Tournament victory over Louisville. 

One of the major missing pieces from the Duke basketball team this season was a dominant paint player, but the Blue Devils (13-11, 9-9 ACC) have now seen a star shine right before its eyes.

Freshman center Mark Williams dominated the Louisville Cardinals (13-7, 8-5 ACC) with 23 points and 19 rebounds in Duke’s 70-56 victory on Wednesday night.

Williams did his damage on 9-of-14 shooting from the floor and 5-of-9 from the free throw line.

The Blue Devils jumped out to a 14-point lead in the first half but saw Louisville rattle off 16 straight points to take a 29-27 lead before Matthew Hurt drilled a three-pointer in the final minute of the half to give Duke a one-point lead at the break.

Hurt had another sensational game, but did it quietly, with 20 points and five rebounds on 7-of-12 shooting from the floor, making both of his attempts from downtown.

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Duke scored the first nine points of the second half and kept Louisville at an arm’s distance throughout the final 20 minutes, leading by as many as 17 points in the closing seconds.

Wendell Moore acted like a veteran on the floor with nine points, seven rebounds, and five assists Meanwhile, the starting guard combination of DJ Steward and Jeremy Roach combined for 18 points, but Roach was much more efficient on 3-of-6 from the floor as Steward was 4-of-13 from the field.

Duke did not get any production from its bench with no points and 0-for-7 shooting.

Louisville star guard Carlik Jones was held to 13 points on 5-of-14 shooting while David Johnson led the Cards with 14 points and 11 rebounds.

Duke basketball executed perfect game plan

The Blue Devils’ game plan was to let Louisville beat them by shooting long two-pointers and three-pointers, and aside from its one run late in the first half, the Louisville offense was ugly.

Chris Mack’s team shot 30.6-percent (19-of-62) from the field and 28.0-percent (7-of-25) from three-point range.

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The Blue Devils were 26-of-58 from the floor (44.8-percent) and 6-of-15 from downtown (40.0-percent).

Mike Krzyzewski and the team will board the bus back to Durham and get set to make the trip to Greensboro for at least one more time in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament against No. 2 seed Florida State (15-5, 11-4 ACC) at 6:30pm EST on Thursday night (ESPN).

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