Duke basketball advances to Elite 8 behind another defensive masterclass

The Blue Devils relied on its defense to defeat Houston in the Sweet 16

Mar 29, 2024; Dallas, TX, USA; Duke basketball guard Tyrese Proctor (5) reacts after defeating the
Mar 29, 2024; Dallas, TX, USA; Duke basketball guard Tyrese Proctor (5) reacts after defeating the / Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

It was the defense. It was the timely offense. It was the toughness. It was everything for the Duke basketball team on Saturday night in Dallas.

The Blue Devils found a way to defeat No. 1 seed Houston and advance to the Elite Eight, 54-51.

It was the third time in this NCAA Tournament that the team has held an opponent to 55 points or less.

However, it didn't start great as the Cougars showed its physicality and toughness early, jumping out to an 8-0 lead that triggered a quick timeout. The stoppage settled Duke down and created a rhythm in the game.

The Blue Devils quickly made its deficit 10-7 and with 2:46 remaining in the first half, it took its first lead, 21-20, and never trailed again despite Houston's best efforts.

It was an resilient effort from the Cougars after its superstar guard, Jamal Shaed, was injured with 6:38 remaining in the first half and Houston leading, 16-10. The senior guard was going up for a layup as his right ankle gave out from underneath him and twisted awkwardly. He did not return to the game.

Still, Houston had a response each time the Blue Devils tried to pull away. L.J. Cryer got the Cougars back within two points, 50-48, with 4:22 remaining but the Houston offense would stay cold as the next two baskets, scored nearly three minutes apart from each other, were by Tyrese Proctor and Jeremy Roach.

Proctor had the defensive stand of the night, forcing Emanual Sharp into a heavily contested 3-pointer on the final possession of the game with the Cougars hoping to send the game into overtime.

Kyle Filipowski led the way with 16 points and nine rebounds while Jeremy Roach scored all of his 14 points in the second half, leading Duke to the cusp of his second career Final Four.

The studying and pregame preparation might not have to be as detailed for Sunday's Elight Eight matchup as the Blue Devils will face ACC foe North Carolina State as its magic March run continues.

The Wolfpack have won eight straight games, including a victory over Duke in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament, after its upset win against No. 2 seed Marquette.

Tipoff will be at 5:05 p.m. ET (CBS) on Sunday afternoon in Dallas.