Duke trying to knock off higher seeded team for first time since 1994 against Houston :: WRALSportsFan.com

Duke trying to knock off higher seeded team for first time since 1994 against Houston :: WRALSportsFan.com

Duke Blue Devils13Duke Blue Devils
Houston Cougars2Houston Cougars
CBS | Friday, March 29th 9:39 PM EDT

— It’s been 30 years since Duke has knocked off a higher-seeded team in the NCAA Tournament.

It’s a task the Blue Devils are faced with Friday night against top-seeded Houston in the Sweet 16.

Beating the Cougars is an order that’s plenty difficult on its own merit. Houston was the nation’s top-ranked team in late February and were ranked No. 1 for seven weeks last season. The Pomeroy College Basketball Rankings lists Houston’s adjusted defense efficiency as the second-best in the country, allowing 88 points per 100 possessions. The Cougars survived a scare from Texas A&M in the second round with a 100-95 overtime win.

“If not the best defense in the country, they’re right there,” said Duke coach Jon Scheyer. “You have to talk about their effort. Their effort is terrific. They make multiple efforts protecting the basket … they have really good one-on-one defenders.”

“If you try to play disconnected, they’re going to make you look bad,” Scheyer said.

No. 4 seed Duke (26-8) has not beaten a higher-seeded team in the NCAA Tournament since 1994, when a Grant Hill-led squad knocked off Glenn Robinson and No. 1 seed Purdue to reach the Final Four.

In the second round, Duke used a torrid game from freshman Jared McCain in the second round to move on. McCain hit eight three-pointers in a 93-55 trouncing of James Madison on Sunday.

“I learned very quickly with Jared … anytime I’d put him in a blue jersey [at practice], he’d be talkin’ smack,” Scheyer said. “He’s just so motivated and the stage doesn’t bother him.”

Though McCain’s always capable of getting hot, It’ll likely be a different type of game against Houston’s highly-regarded defense. Duke will need a disciplined ball-handling effort and not allow Houston (32-4) extra opportunities.

“I think playing poised and limiting turnovers is going to be a huge thing for us,” said Tyrese Proctor. “They’ll try and muck up the game and try to make it harder than it is.”

The Blue Devils had an opportunity to snap the streak last season as a 5 seed, but lost to 4-seed Tennessee.

For Friday, ESPN Analytics gives Houston a 76.5 percent chance to win. Tip-off is scheduled for 9:40 p.m.

Source: wralsportsfan.com