CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Duke got Kyrie Irving back this weekend here in Charlotte and Irving delivered with a bank shot to give the Blue Devils a critical three-point lead late in the game against Michigan.
But having Irving on the court, as much as that makes a difference for the Blue Devils at both ends of the court, doesn’t mean Duke is going to cruise in the NCAA tournament.
Michigan pushed Duke to the final possession, but Darius Morris couldn’t convert a runner in the lane to tie the game and the Wolverines fell 73-71 to the Blue Devils on Sunday afternoon in a West region third-round game at the Time Warner Cable Arena.
Duke got a bit too passive against Michigan’s changing defense, which included a sprinkling of the 1-3-1, and Michigan made plays late, especially from Tim Hardaway Jr., with a mid-range shot and a 3-pointer to cut Duke’s lead to one point with 90 seconds left.
Nolan Smith made 1 of 2 free throws to give Duke the lead at 73-71 to set up Morris’ final shot.
Key stat: Smith was sensational earlier in the game, finishing with 24 points and making 6 of 7 free throws.
Turning point: Michigan going to its changing defense was a difference for the Wolverines. Duke had a shot-clock violation during the run. Great call by Michigan to keep Duke off balance.
What’s next: Duke moves on to play the winner of Arizona-Texas in the West region Sweet 16 in Anaheim. Michigan moves on to be a serious threat to win the Big Ten in 2012.