The Duke Blue Devils, the top overall seed in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, just about fell to the ninth-seeded UCF Knights Sunday, only prevailing 77-76 thanks to an improbable sequence of events. UCF got a bit of a break with 2:06 left when a protracted review didn’t provide enough evidence to overturn a non-call of a shot clock violation, leaving them with a 74-70 lead. The Knights then had the chance to go up by six on a two-on-none fastbreak after a missed Blue Devils shot, but Dayon Griffin couldn’t convert the alley-oop, and Duke went back down the floor and got within one thanks to a three-pointer from Cam Reddish:
After that, UCF wound up ahead by two thanks to a defensive foul on Zion Williamson and two made free throws from B.J. Taylor. But Duke got back within one with 14 seconds left when Williamson drove the lane, made a tough shot, and drew a foul from UCF center Thacko Fall, who fouled out of the game as a result:
That got Duke within one and put Williamson at the line with a chance to tie it. He missed, but that wound up working out even better for the Blue Devils, as R.J. Barrett was able to grab the rebound (probably helped by Fall not being in the game) and put it back in to give Duke the lead:
After that, UCF got their own chances to win the game. But a jumper from Taylor wouldn’t go, and while Audrey Dawkins got the rebound and had a great chance to try and tip it back in, it just wouldn’t fall, giving Duke the victory.
Dawkins (seen above after the loss) had a great game, scoring a game-high 32 points and adding four assists, three rebounds, and three steals. But it’s his miss at the end that many will remember here. Meanwhile, the Blue Devils will be advancing on to the Sweet 16, facing either Liberty or Virginia Tech Friday. But they were extremely close to not making it that far.