Duke prevails over No. 13 Vermont with strong second half

Barclays Center was getting loud, drowning out the strong Duke contingent.

Vermont, the 13th seed, had pulled within two.

An upset seemed possible.

Then, Jared McCain refused to let it happen.

He sank a momentum-shifting 3-pointer, then scored on a medium-range jumper.

Soon, the lead was back to nine.

Fourth-seeded Duke would prevail, 64-47, in an NCAA Tournament, opening-round game in Brooklyn, running away from the underdog late.

“The beginning of the second half they made a great run. I thought our response is what I’m really proud of,” Duke coach Jon Scheyer said. “Literally I could go down the line with each of these guys that stepped up and made big shots, big rebounds. But really big defensive stops, to hold them to 47 points.”

Shamir Bogues #12 of the Vermont Catamounts defends against Jared McCain #0 of the Duke Blue Devils during the first half in the first round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Getty Images

McCain was a big part of the Duke (25-8) win, scoring 15 points along with six rebounds and three assists.

Only a freshman, the bright lights of the dance didn’t faze him.

The highly-regarded five-star recruit came through, as he has through most of a solid first season of college basketball.

His shaky performance in an ACC Tournament loss to N.C. State didn’t stick with him.

“I’m not surprised by what he did,” Scheyer said. “Jared, he’s built differently. He’s made for these moments, in my opinion.”

On a night star big man Kyle Filipowski was quiet offensively, managing just three points and attempting only a single shot, his teammates had his back.

Mark Mitchell scored 15 points, Jeremy Roach followed with 14 and Tyrese Proctor had 13.

The Blue Devils’ defense came up particularly big.

Vermont Catamounts guard Sam Alamutu (2) and Vermont Catamounts guard Aaron Deloney (1) react after the game against the Duke Blue Devils in the first round of the 2024 NCAA Tournament at the Barclays Center. Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

They limited Vermont (28-7) to just 18 points over the final 20 minutes and 38.5 shooting overall.

Leading scorer TJ Long missed seven of his eight shots from the field, and the Catamounts had as many assists (12) as turnovers (12).

Aided by Filipowski’s 12 rebounds, Duke won the battle on the glass by 12.

Devils center Kyle Filipowski #30, blocks a shot by Vermont Catamounts guard Shamir Bogues #12, in the 2nd half. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

“We just tried not to panic, went back to the huddle and fixed some things in our communication and tried to lock in and dig down deep and get stops,” Mitchell said.

“That’s what we talked about the last week when we get in these tight moments to [dig] deeper, get stops and we did that.”

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