Brian Zoubek blocks the shot of Jerome Randle during Sunday’s win over Cal.
Photo Courtesy: David Bradley, Duke Basketball
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – California's 3-point shooters were no match for Duke's defense Sunday evening.
Duke's coaches spent two days devising and implementing a plan to take away the perimeter scoring from a Cal team that had three starters shooting 40 percent or better from 3-point range.
It was time well spent. Led by guard Nolan Smith, Duke's defense held California to 3-for-12 (25 percent) from 3-point range in a 68-53 second-round NCAA Tournament win Sunday at Veterans Memorial Arena.
The top-seeded Blue Devils (31-5) advanced to Friday's South Regional semifinals in Houston, where they will meet No. 4 seed Purdue.
On Saturday afternoon, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski had sounded like he was giving himself an ulcer as he talked about California's 3-point shooters. Starters Jerome Randle, Jorge Gutierrez and Theo Robertson all entered the game shooting better than 40 percent on 3-point attempts, and the Bears were shooting 37.7 percent as a team.
"The more I'm talking about them, the more I'm getting concerned," Krzyzewski said Saturday.
But Duke limited Cal's 3-point attempts and got big scoring performances from Smith, Kyle Singler and Brian Zoubek. Smith squeezed through driving lanes and hit jump shots off the dribble and off the catch to score 20 points.
Singler added 17 points, and 7-foot-1 center Zoubek made the most of his size advantage with 14 points on 6-for-6 from the field plus 13 rebounds.
Cal's only 3-point goal in the first half came when Bears guard Jerome Randle at 5-foot-10 found himself guarded by 6-10 center Miles Plumlee after a Duke defensive switch. Randle used his quickness to bounce Plumlee off a ball screen and fired in the only three in six first-half attempts for Cal.
The Bears (24-11) made consecutive 3-pointers early in the second half to cut a 37-24 halftime deficit to 44-35 with 15 minutes, 13 seconds remaining. Krzyzewski immediately called timeout to reset Duke's defense.
Although Cal managed to score the next field goal and get within seven points, the Blue Devils didn't allow another 3-pointer for the rest of the game.