VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS: UCF Nearly Pulls off Upset of No.1 Overall Seed Duke Blue Devils
By Alan Zlotorzynski, Senior Editor // March 25, 2019
UCF's Aubrey Dawkins and Duke's Zion Williamson each score 32-points
ABOVE VIDEO: Duke will make Sweet 16 appearance number 24 under head coach Mike Krzyzewski next weekend as they survived a tough battle with a gritty Knights team, 77-76.
COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA– The NCAA Tournament hasn’t exactly provided viewers the drama we’ve come to expect from the field of 64 during the first weekend.
That changed on Sunday afternoon as the game between the No.9 seeded UCF Knights and the tournaments No.1 overall seed, the Duke Blue Devils, lived up to its hype and exceeded beyond the obvious storylines.
In the end, however, Knights fans experienced what ACC fans have endured for the better part of nearly 40 years, a Blue Devils team snatching a 77-76 victory from the jaws of defeat.
Instead of UFC winning their second ever NCAA Tournament game in upset fashion, the Knights will head back to central Florida while Duke travels to Washington D.C. where they will make Sweet 16 appearance number 24 under head coach Mike Krzyzewski.
From the opening tip, Duke couldn’t shake the Knights.
The Blue Devils led 3-2 early but wouldn’t lead again in the first half until Cam Redish hit a three-point shot with 8:30 remaining to give Duke a 23-21 lead.
Thanks to Blue Devil runs of 10-0 and 8-0, UCF trailed for the better part of the first half.
“We end in tears…that’s because we’ve invested so much in each other.
— UCF Men’s Hoops #GKMO (@UCF_MBB) March 25, 2019
ABOVE VIDEO: UCF coach Johnny Dawkins consoles a tearful Knights in the locker room after his teams’ tough loss to Duke.
Following an Aubrey Dawkins jumper with 4:48 to play, the Knights went cold from the floor. They were outscored 14-7 with all of their points coming from the free throw line and UCF trailed, 44-36 at the half.
Three 7-0 runs, two of them by the Knights to start the second half saw UCF down by just one, 51-50, with 6:03 to play in the contest.
Aubrey Dawkins tied the game at 54 with a dunk and on UCF’s next trip down the floor, a B.J. Taylor three-pointer gave the Knights their first lead of the second half. Duke answered right back as Zion Williamson equaled Taylor’s three to keep the score tied at 57.
The game would lean Duke’s way over the next several minutes as the Blue Devils would go back up by seven, 66-59 with 7;23 to play.
However, Aubrey Dawkins, B.J. Taylor and Dayon Griffin each hit three-point shots to key an 11-2 UCF run that gave the Knights a 70-68 lead with just 4:00 remaining.
The final 240 seconds turned this one into a ‘Tournament’ classic. The turning point of the final minutes came following a Tacko Fall dunk that put the Knights up by four points.
The Blue Devils Tre Jones missed a three-point jumper that Dayon Griffin rebounded. Griffin then turned the ball over and instead of being up six, a three-point shot by Cam Reddish cut the lead to one.
Zion Williamson picked up his fourth foul when he sent B.J. Taylor to the line with .45 seconds left and after Taylor hit them both, the Knights led 76-75.
Williamson would then miss a three-point attempt on the trip back down the floor but a huge rebound by Javin DeLaurier gave the Blue Devils another chance with the ball and this time Williamson showed why he’s likely to be the top pick in the NBA Draft.
Williamson drove the lane, spinning mid-air where Tacko Fall, his 7-foot-6-inch frame and four fouls were waiting. Although Williamson didn’t dunk the ball the shot dropped to pull the Blue Devils to within one.
Tacko’s feet weren’t quite set and he picked up his final foul and was forced to watch the final seconds from the bench.
Williamson missed the and one and with Fall on the bench, Duke’s RJ Barrett grabbed the offensive rebound and completed the put-back layup to give Duke a 77-76 lead.
Even without Fall, the drama wasn’t over as UCF had one more chance.
After calling a timeout they inbounded the ball with eight seconds to play and got two good looks to win the game. The first came when B.J. Taylor drove the baseline and put up a right-handed floater not far outside the paint but the ball didn’t go in.
Dawkins then followed Taylor’s attempt and put back a shot toward the basket with his right hand that hit the backboard and then rolled left along the rim in what appeared to be slow motion before rolling out and into the hands of the victorious and elated Blue Devils.
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 25, 2019
ABOVE VIDEO: Coach K discusses his love for UCF head coach and former Duke legend, Johnny Dawkins.
Excruciating, heartbreaking and frustrating are some of the adjectives Knights fans are feeling following the loss. Duke outscored UCF 7-2 in the final 1:43.
The Knights outshot the Blue Devils from the field (48 percent to 45 percent) and from three-point range (50 percent -40 percent).
The rebound battle was nearly even, but Duke took advantage of 13 offensive boards, leading to a 15-6 lead in second-chance points. There were 13 lead changes and seven ties in the game.
Duke’s four freshmen carried the load against UCF. The quartet combined for 72 of 77 points as Williamson scored 32-points in the contest.
For UCF, Aubrey Dawkins also had 32-points while B.J Taylor and Tacko Fall each finished with 15-points.
It was the first time this season that UCF lost after leading the game with two minutes to go, finishing the year 23-1.
Mike Krzyzewski is now 28–5 in games against his former assistants.
With the loss to Duke, the Knights are now 1-5 all-time in the NCAA Tournament but returning to March Madness in the near future to get win No.2 is a very real possibility.
The Knights future is a bright one and even though Tacko Fall, B.J. Taylor, and Dayon Griffin all played their final games on Sunday, Aubrey Dawkins returns and so does his father.
That may be the biggest issue facing the Knights in the coming years, whether or not they can prevent Dawkins from ‘Scott Frosting’ them and returning to his Alma mater to take over for Coach K.
With five National Championships and 27 combined ACC regular season and tournament titles, many feel the time is quickly coming when Krzyzewski will step down and is there a better candidate to replace him than Johnny Dawkins?
Dawkins resurrected a Stanford program winning two NIT titles before coming to UCF to do similar type things, not to mention Dawkins was Krzyzewski’s first big-time recruit at Duke helping to build the program into what it has become today.
Dawkins spent 10 seasons sitting next to Coach K in Durham where the Blue Devils won a national championship (2001), tallied six ACC regular season championships, recorded seven ACC Tournament titles and posted a 330-60 record.
All the former Duke legend has done in central Florida is take the Knights to the Final 4 of the NIT and lead them to their first-ever NCAA Tournament win.
One thing is for sure, with Aubrey Dawkins coming back for his senior year, this is an issue that is at least one more off-season away and Knights fans will take that but as we learned with the aforementioned Scott Frost, they really don’t have a choice.
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