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March Madness: Duke knocks off No. 1 Houston to reach Elite Eight after Cougars lose star Jamal Shead

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March Madness: Duke knocks off No. 1 Houston to reach Elite Eight after Cougars lose star Jamal Shead


Jamal Shead had to be helped off the court after rolling his right ankle hard on Friday night in Dallas.

Without Jamal Shead, top-ranked Houston just couldn’t get past Duke on Friday night.

The Blue Devils, after Shead went down with a severely sprained ankle in the first half, jumped ahead and held on in the final seconds to grab a 54-51 win in their Sweet 16 matchup at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. That sent Duke to its second Elite Eight in three seasons, and the first under second-year head coach Jon Scheyer.

Remarkably, it also marked Duke’s first NCAA tournament win over a higher seed in 30 years.

Cougars struggle after losing Jamal Shead

Shead drove to the rim a few minutes after the midway point of the first half, but his right ankle rolled hard as he planted to rise up for the layup. That sent him crashing down to the court hard, where he stayed for quite some time in a lot of pain.

He eventually tried to walk off the court under his own power, but trainers then helped him the rest of the way to the locker room.

Shead was shown on CBS riding a scooter to get an X-ray at halftime, which came back negative. That left him with a severely-sprained ankle. While the Cougars didn’t rule him out in the second half, he didn’t return to the game. He finished with two points and three assists, and went just 1-of-5 from the floor.

Shead averaged a career-high 13.2 points and 6.4 assists this season for the Cougars, who won the regular season in the Big 12 after joining the conference just months earlier. They claimed a top seed in the NCAA tournament, and beat both Longwood and Texas A&M to reach the Sweet 16. Shead has averaged 16 points and 9.5 assists per game in the tournament.

While Houston got off to a very fast start on Friday night — they jumped out to a 6-0 lead and forced Scheyer to call a timeout not even two minutes into the game before rolling to a 10-3 start — Duke slowly chipped away at the lead to close out the half. The Blue Devils held Houston scoreless for a nearly six minute stretch at one point, and they outscored the Cougars 13-6 after Shead left the game while Houston missed nine of its last 11 shots of the first half.

Duke took a 23-22 lead into halftime after Houston’s L.J. Cryer made a layup at the buzzer, which marked the Cougars’ only points in the last four minutes of the period.

Houston didn’t go away in the second half. The first time Duke tried to pull away near the midway point, Ramon Walker drilled a huge contested 3-pointer to cut the game back to a single possession. J’Wan Roberts then sank a tough left-handed layup in the paint to cut it to just one point.

But that was as close as the Cougars got. Duke shut them down offensively once again. They went more than three minutes without scoring after L.J. Cryer hit a jumper at the 4:25 mark of the second half, and Jeremy Roach responded with a huge fadeaway jumper from the free throw line to put the Blue Devils back up by six points with just 73 seconds left.

From there, they held on and made one last big stop to sneak out with a three-point win.

Cryer led the Cougars with 15 points while shooting 7-of-14 from the field in the loss. Roberts added 13 points and eight rebounds. They were the only Houston players to hit double figures. The Cougars shot just 2-of-8 from behind the arc, too.

Kyle Filipowski led Duke with 16 points and nine rebounds on Friday night. Roach added 14 points, three rebounds and three assists. Duke went just 6-of-17 from behind the arc as a team, half of which belonged to Filipowski.

The Blue Devils will now take on NC State in what will be an all-ACC Elite Eight. The Wolfpack beat No. 2 Marquette in their Sweet 16 matchup earlier on Friday night, which marked their eighth straight elimination win dating back to the ACC tournament.



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