Duke basketball smothers Oral Roberts to cruise into Round of 32

Duke basketball center Dereck Lively (Russell Lansford-USA TODAY Sports)
Duke basketball center Dereck Lively (Russell Lansford-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Duke basketball team smothered Oral Roberts in a dominating NCAA Tournament debut. 

It was almost a carbon copy of the Duke basketball opener in the ACC Tournament and the Blue Devils certainly hope the ending will be the same.

Jon Scheyer, in his first NCAA Tournament game as a head coach, watched his team open up a 15-0 lead against Oral Roberts and never looked back en route to its 74-51 victory.

The offensive execution from Duke was incredible as ten different players scored at least two points but it was the junior captain Jeremy Roach who led the way with 23 points on 9-of-17 shooting.

Roach displayed his ability to hit clutch shots in March during last year’s tournament and the point guard is looking to finish what he started with the Blue Devils.

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Freshman Dariq Whitehead was the only other player to reach double figures Duke with 13 points as the five-star wing proved the spotlight was not too bright for him with 10 points coming in the first half.

Whitehead was 5-for-7 from the floor and made all three of his 3-point attempts.

The Blue Devils shot 48.4-percent from the field and 37.5-percent from 3-point range despite having just 13 assists on 31 buckets.

Duke basketball defense continues elite level

The potency of the Blue Devil offense will gather the major headlines but it was its defense, yet again, that stole the show and halted a very efficient Oral Roberts attack.

The Golden Eagles averaged 84.2 points per game entering the NCAA Tournament and were held to its second fewest points — 45 points in a loss against Houston — of the season.

Senior star Max Abmas was limited to just 12 points on 4-of-15 shooting from the floor and only connected on 2-of-9 3-pointers.

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Oral Roberts was just 30.2-percent from the field and 25.0-percent from 3-point range in its defeat.

Duke led by as many as 27 points, 50-23, with 15:40 left in the second half but the Golden Eagles made a charge to get back within 14 points, 54-40, with 8:52 left but Tyrese Proctor and Jeremy Roach combined to put the game out of reach.

The Blue Devils will take on either No. 4 Tennessee or No. 13 Louisiana on Saturday in Orlando, Florida.

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