Mike Krzyzewski

Duke guard Brandon Ingram shoots between Oregon forward Jordan Bell, right, and forward Dillon Brooks during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the regional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament, Thursday, March 24, 2016, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

No. 1 Oregon beats Duke, advances to first Elite Eight since 2007

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The first weekend of the NCAA tournament wasn’t particularly kind to the Pac-12, as six of their seven entrants were eliminated. The lone team standing was Oregon, the top seed in the West and the best team the Pac-12 had to offer. Dana Altman’s team has the athleticism and versatility needed to make its way to Houston, and Thursday night those attributes along with the team’s willingness to pass the ball was on display in their 82-68 win over No. 4 Duke.

Dillon Brooks led five Ducks in double figures with 22 points while also grabbing five rebounds and dishing out six assists, and as a team Oregon assisted on 22 of its 38 made field goals. Oregon can attack teams in a variety of ways offensively thanks to the versatility of players such as Brooks, Elgin Cook and Tyler Dorsey, and if not for a number of missed dunks the margin Thursday night would have been worse.

Duke’s had issues defensively due in large part to their lack of depth, which makes it difficult to shift strategies when one approach isn’t working. Duke went zone for part of the second half, and Oregon managed to find quality looks though sound ball movement and player movement off the basketball.

Oregon finished the game shooting 49.2 percent from the field, but they were much better on that end of the floor in the game’s final 20 minutes.

And of all the offensive options at Altman’s disposal the one who doesn’t receive enough credit is sophomore point guard Casey Benson, whose improvement throughout the season has been a key for Oregon. Almost deferential to a fault when it came to taking open shots at the start of the year, Benson’s been better as the season’s progressed at picking his spots while continuing to distribute the ball in an efficient manner.

Against Duke, Benson finished with 11 points, eight assists and just one turnover. That one turnover raised Benson’s total for the season to 23, and his assist-to-turnover ratio is a very good 4.65:1. The injured Dylan Ennis was expected to be the man at the point when the season began, but the play of Benson has ensured that Oregon did not miss a beat this season.

Oregon has an eight-man rotation that appears to be even deeper thanks to their versatility, and against Duke the Ducks took advantage of that throughout the night. The offense was good but so was the defense, with Jordan Bell (13 points, seven rebounds and four blocks) and Chris Boucher serving as deterrents at the rim and the changes between man and a matchup zone keeping the Blue Devils off balance.

They’ll need a similar effort against Oklahoma Saturday, but there should be no more questions as to whether or not Oregon’s capable.

VIDEO: Kobe Bryant shows up to support Coach K, Duke

Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant (24) leaves the court during the second half for the final time of the NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns, Wednesday, March 23, 2016, in Phoenix. The Suns won 119-107 in Bryant's last game in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)
AP Photo/Matt York
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West No. 4 Duke is taking on top seed Oregon Thursday night in Anaheim, and the proximity to Los Angeles opened up the possibility of an esteemed guest showing up to support the Blue Devils.

That guest: Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, who’s played for Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski on the United States Olympic Team (winning gold at the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics) and has been a family friend for years. Shortly before tipoff Bryant made his way to his seat in the Duke cheering section, exchanging pleasantries with Krzyzewski’s wife and grandsons in the process.

And during the first half Oklahoma senior guard Buddy Hield got to meet the “Black Mamba.”

Bryant’s playing career will come to an end this season, as he announced in mid-January that he won’t be representing the country in the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Allen leads No. 15 Duke past Florida State, 80-65

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski gestures during the first half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against Florida State in Durham, N.C., Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Ben McKeown)
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DURHAM, N.C. (AP) Duke has been dealing with some injured players and even more ranked opponents. The 15th-ranked Blue Devils were emotionally drained – yet they still found enough energy to beat fading Florida State.

Grayson Allen scored 18 points, Brandon Ingram added 16 and Duke defeated the Seminoles 80-65 on Thursday night.

Marshall Plumlee had 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Blue Devils (21-7, 10-5 Atlantic Coast Conference), who faced an unranked team for the first time since Feb. 6. They played four straight against the Top 25, winning the first three by a combined seven points.

“The emotion that we’ve had to have for these last five games – really, they’re tired,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “And you could tell, and it’s not because of being physically out of shape. They’re giving me everything.”

The Blue Devils placed five players in double figures for the first time in league play and forced 14 turnovers while matching a season low with five themselves.

“A good shooting team like this, you can’t give them extra possessions,” Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said. “We just got beat by a team that played much better than us tonight.”

Luke Kennard finished with 12 points and Matt Jones added 11 in his first game back from injury for Duke, which has won six of seven.

Freshman guard Dwayne Bacon had 12 points and 10 rebounds, Xavier Rathan-Mayes scored 13 and Devon Bookert finished with 10 points for the Seminoles (16-12, 6-10). They have lost a season-worst five straight.

Florida State never got closer than 11 in the second half, the last time coming on Bookert’s jumper at the 10-minute mark. Ingram hit two free throws, Jones hit a 3 and Plumlee followed with a dunk on Jarquez Smith and then a free throw that made it 67-50 with 8:52 remaining.

Duke was coming off a loss at Louisville in which the Blue Devils’ depth issues hurt them.

Jones missed that game with a sprained ankle sustained against North Carolina, effectively leaving Duke with just five players. And then freshman point guard Derryck Thornton missed about 5 minutes of the second half against the Cardinals after injuring his right (shooting) shoulder in a collision with a Louisville player.

“I just feel like we keep getting better and keep getting tougher,” Jones said.

Both played in this one, and Jones started the 24-10 run that gave Duke plenty of breathing room with a 3-pointer with 11 minutes left in the half. Allen capped the burst with a layup on which freshman Malik Beasley was called for goaltending, making it 36-24 with 3:41 before the break.

HIGHLIGHT

Chase Jeter came up with the best 4-minute run of his Duke career, by far. In that span the lightly tested freshman drew a charge, grabbed four rebounds, threw down a dunk and had the Cameron Crazies chanting his last name. “That’s everybody’s dream, to be in Cameron and hear the fans chanting your name,” Jeter said.

TIP-INS

Florida State: Beasley and Bacon entered as the highest-scoring pair of freshmen in ACC history, combining to average 31.9 points. That was barely better than the combination of Mark Price and John Salley, who scored an average of 31.8 points for Georgia Tech in 1983. … This was the Seminoles’ final regular-season road game.

Duke: The Blue Devils missed their first nine shots, then shot 51 percent the rest of the way. … Allen is on pace to become the ninth player in school history to lead the team in scoring and assists, and the first since Nolan Smith during his ACC player of the year season in 2011. Smith was added to the coaching staff earlier this week and made his coaching debut in this game.

UP NEXT

Florida State hosts No. 23 Notre Dame on Saturday.

Duke visits Pittsburgh on Sunday.

Follow Joedy McCreary at http://twitter.com/joedyap. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/joedy-mccreary

AP college basketball site: http://collegebasketball.ap.org

Duke’s Matt Jones sidelined with sprained ankle

Matt Jones, Dan Garvin
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Already limited in numbers, No. 20 Duke took another personnel hit in the form of junior guard Matt Jones.

Friday afternoon the program announced that Jones will miss the Blue Devils’ game at No. 18 Louisville as a result of a sprained left ankle suffered in their win at No. 5 North Carolina Wednesday night. Jones played just nine minutes as a result of the injury, with freshman Luke Kennard absorbing many of those minutes in his sixth man role.

Without Jones, Kennard in all likelihood will move into the starting lineup as Duke doesn’t have another option.

Jones joins power forward Amile Jefferson on the sideline for head coach Mike Krzyzewski. Jefferson’s absence has limited the team’s front court depth, as neither freshman Chase Jeter nor Rice transfer Sean Obi have been able to show that they’re capable of handling extended minutes.

Duke has more talent on the perimeter, but losing Jones means that Duke now lacks an option to get their key options a moment of rest during the course of a game. That shouldn’t change much offensively, but it will impact how Duke plays on the defensive end as avoiding foul trouble becomes even more important.

‘Under the weather’ Krzyzewski to miss Duke’s game at Georgia Tech

Duke head basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski shouts to the court during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Syracuse at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C., Monday, Jan. 18, 2016. Syracuse defeated Duke 64-62. (AP Photo/Ben McKeown)
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Duke, which fell out of the national rankings for the first time in eight years Monday, will be without head coach Mike Krzyzewski Wednesday night as they take on Georgia Tech in Atlanta.

According to the school Krzyzewski is “under the weather,” and as a result he did not make the trip south with the team. The head coach met with doctors following the team’s meal Monday night, and they advised him not to make the trip. According to a report from ESPN.com, Krzyzewski remained at Duke University Hospital overnight Monday with a battery of tests revealing that he was suffering from dehydration.

Associate head coach Jeff Capel will serve as acting head coach against the Yellow Jackets.

Duke has lost four of its last five games and is still without senior forward Amile Jefferson, who hasn’t played since December 5 against Buffalo due to a foot injury.

Lack of front court depth, rebounding cost No. 9 Duke

Duke players Brandon Ingram (14), Luke Kennard (5) and Matt Jones (13) walk off the court following an NCAA college basketball game against Notre Dame at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C., Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016. Notre Dame beat Duke 95-91. (AP Photo/Ben McKeown)
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With their lack of depth, No. 9 Duke is bound to have some issues to navigate on the defensive end of the floor. With just one dependable big man in Marshall Plumlee with Amile Jefferson still out with a foot injury, there’s only so much the Blue Devils can do when faced with a productive big man. Against Notre Dame that “big” man was 6-foot-5 power forward Bonzie Colson, who came off the bench and put forth the best performance of his career in a 95-91 win at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Colson scored a career-high 31 points, shooting 12-for-19 from the field, and also grabbing 11 rebounds. Colson was effective setting screens for the Notre Dame guards, most notably Demetrius Jackson, and either rolling to the basket or popping out for perimeter shot opportunities. But where both he and Zach Auguste, who finished with nine points (would have been more if not for his issues finishing around the basket) and 14 rebounds, hurt Duke the most was on the offensive glass.

Eight of Colson’s 11 rebounds came on the offensive end, and the Notre Dame front court tandem combined to grab 12 of the team’s 16 offensive rebounds. Those were converted into 18 second chance points, a key reason why Notre Dame attempted 16 more field goals. And for a team that lacks depth as Duke does, that extra time spent defending can add up by game’s end.

So what can Duke do at this point, with the timetable for Jefferson’s return still being undefined? Most likely, they’ll have to ask for even more from already productive players such as Brandon Ingram and Grayson Allen.

In theory a coach would like to be able to look down the bench and grab another big man capable of helping out for a few minutes here and there. But neither Chase Jeter nor Sean Obi have shown themselves capable of doing so to this point in the season. That leaves Mike Krzyzewski stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to his rotation. Plumlee finished with eight points, nine rebounds and two blocks, doing a good job of making many of Auguste’s attempts around the basket difficult, and Luke Kennard chipped in with eight rebounds in addition to his career-high 30 points.

But with just one bonafide big man, closing out possessions and defending ball screens will be tough for Duke, which has looked to mix in some zone in recent games. If Duke is to remain part of the ACC race until Jefferson returns, the guards will have to contribute even more on the glass. And even if that does happen, it may not be enough as Duke doesn’t have a big man capable of defending ball screens at Jefferson’s level.