Duke's season of high expectations ends abruptly, painfully

http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/ncaab/2017/03/20/duke-loss-south-
BYNicole Auerbach , USA TODAY Sports Published 1:31 a.m. ET March 20, 2017 | Updated 11:26 a.m. ET March 20, 2017
CLOSESkip in Skipx

Embed

x

Share

USA TODAY Sports' Scott Gleeson breaks down how South Carolina earned a berth in the Sweet 16 by upsetting No. 2 Duke. USA TODAY Sports

Duke Blue Devils forward Jayson Tatum watches the game and season slip away.(Photo: Bob Donnan, USA TODAY Sports)

136 CONNECTTWEETLINKEDIN 10 COMMENTEMAILMORE

GREENVILLE, S.C. — After everything — all that preseason hype, those early season injuries and, of course, the cascading waves of boos that rained down on Grayson Allen all year long after his infamous tripping incidents — well, no one knew how it all would end for this particular Duke team.

Some truly thought it could end with net-cutting in Phoenix, a fairy-tale finish after more than a few bumps. But maybe, just maybe, it was destined to be this: A crippling, crushing second-round upset to a No. 7 seed no one thought deserved to be a No. 7 seed in a virtual road game, one that college basketball fans will point to as one of the greatest stunners in NCAA tournament history.

Or, alternatively: South Carolina 88, No. 2 Duke 81.

Duke’s season ended with a resounding thud on the court, and tears and sniffling in a silent locker room, players staring at a coach trying to remind his team that they did, really, have a season worth remembering fondly. That it’s not a failure just because it’s ending without even so much as a trip to the Sweet 16. That it’s not a magnificent disappointment because this team was ranked No. 1 in the nation to start the season. That it’s not, well, what everyone on the outside will say about them.

“I told them I love these guys, and I'm proud of them,” Krzyzewski said. “I'm disappointed that we didn't win tonight. But at the end of the season I want my guys to either be crying because we've lost or crying because we've just won.

“If you're not doing one of those, that means you never really became a team, that it was never really that important. And for these guys — hey we're a really good team. This is one of the teams (I’m most proud of) because all the stuff.

“You all keep talking about expectations. Look, a lot of these kids were just hurt at the start of the year and whatever, and they never used it as an excuse. And they became close. So I just told them I love them and I'm proud of them.

“I wish I could keep coaching them this year, but that's not going to happen.”

Luke Kennard, Duke’s best and most consistent player, kept his gaze low and his voice soft as he tried to explain feelings he didn’t plan on feeling Sunday night.

“Your mood is definitely down,” Kennard said. “You’re ashamed of the loss and the season being over. It was definitely a quiet atmosphere. We were down, but Coach was proud of us for what we’ve accomplished this year.”

He paused, thinking about the Atlantic Coast Conference championship run he and his teammates finished off just last week, though it feels like a lifetime ago.

CLOSESkip in Skipx

Embed

x

Share

USA TODAY Sports' George Schroeder recaps all the March Madness action from Sunday, including a rough day for two of the ACC's top teams. USA TODAY Sports

“I think, overall, we had a good year,” Kennard said, staring at his feet.

Across the room, with puffy pink eyes, freshman Harry Giles tried to come to terms with the fact he’d just played his last game with these teammates, and, most likely, his last game at Duke. His season hadn’t gone how he’d hoped it would, personally, with knee surgery serving as an early season setback, and a role off the bench not quite befitting the one-time No. 1 recruit in his class. He’d been happy enough to be a team player, contributing when he could and hitting his stride — finally — during that ACC tournament run.

“It’s tough,” Giles said. “Our whole goal was to win a national championship. You woke up in the morning — the early morning — that’s what we worked out for every day. That’s what we showed up for, that’s what we came to Duke for.”

And not only did the Blue Devils come up short, they came up way short. The last time they failed to advance out of the NCAA tournament’s first weekend was 2014 — when they were upset by No. 14 seed Mercer in the Round of 64.

And, much like that infamous blemish on an otherwise enormously successful basketball tradition, the sting of this loss won’t go away anytime soon, either.

MARCH SADNESS

FacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedInMarch Sadness: The agony of defeat in the NCAA tournament FullscreenPost to Facebook

Posted!

A link has been posted to your Facebook feed.

Arizona Wildcats guard Allonzo Trier (35) reacts after losing to the Xavier Musketeers during the semifinals of the West Regional of the 2017 NCAA Tournament at SAP Center.  Stan Szeto, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen Arizona Wildcats guard Allonzo Trier (35) and forward Lauri Markkanen (10) react after losing to the Xavier Musketeers during the semifinals of the West Regional of the 2017 NCAA Tournament at SAP Center.  Stan Szeto, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen Purdue Boilermakers guard P.J. Thompson (11) reacts after the game against the Kansas Jayhawks in the semifinals of the midwest Regional of the 2017 NCAA Tournament at Sprint Center. Kansas defeated Purdue 98-66.  Jay Biggerstaff, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen Purdue Boilermakers center Isaac Haas (44) reacts from the bench during the second half against the Kansas Jayhawks in the semifinals of the midwest Regional of the 2017 NCAA Tournament at Sprint Center.  Jay Biggerstaff, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen WVU coach Bob Huggins looks on against the Gonzaga Bulldogs during the NCAA tournament.  Ezra Shaw, Getty ImagesFullscreen West Virginia Mountaineers reacts to their 61 -58 loss to the Gonzaga Bulldogs during the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament West Regional at SAP Center on March 23.  Sean M. Haffey, Getty ImagesFullscreen Michigan Wolverines forward D.J. Wilson (5) reacts during the second half against the Oregon Ducks in the semifinals of the midwest Regional of the 2017 NCAA Tournament at Sprint Center. Oregon defeated Michigan 69-68.  Denny Medley, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen Michigan Wolverines guard Zak Irvin (21) reacts at the end of the game against the Oregon Ducks in the semifinals of the midwest Regional of the 2017 NCAA Tournament at Sprint Center.  Denny Medley, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen Cincinnati Bearcats players sob as their season comes to a close at the hands of UCLA.  Kyle Terada, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen Duke Blue Devils guard Luke Kennard (5) reacts on the bench during the second half against the South Carolina Gamecocks in the second round of the 2017 NCAA tournament.  Bob Donnan, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen Duke Blue Devils forward Jayson Tatum (0) reacts on the bench during the second half against the South Carolina Gamecocks in the second round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament.  Bob Donnan, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen USC Trojans bench reacts during the second half against the Baylor Bears in the second round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament at BOK Center.  Kevin Jairaj, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen Tyler Dorsey of the Oregon Ducks reacts as Jarvis Garrett of the Rhode Island Rams watches on during the second round of the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball tournament.  Jamie Squire, Getty ImagesFullscreen Arkansas Razorbacks guard Manuale Watkins (21) reacts after loosing to the North Carolina Tar Heels in the second round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament at Bon Secours Wellness Arena.  Bob Donnan, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen Arkansas Razorbacks guard Dusty Hannahs (3) reacts after loosing to the North Carolina Tar Heels in the second round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament at Bon Secours Wellness Arena.  Jeremy Brevard, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen Michigan State Spartans guard Lourawls Nairn Jr. (11) walks off the court after rthe game against the Kansas Jayhawks in the second round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament at BOK Center. Kansas defeated Michigan State 90-70.  Brett Rojo, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen Michigan State Spartans guard Miles Bridges (22) reacts at the end of the game against the Kansas Jayhawks in the second round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament at BOK Center. Kansas defeated Michigan State 90-70.  Brett Rojo, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen Wichita State Shockers guard Landry Shamet (11) and guard Austin Reaves (12) react after losing to the Kentucky Wildcats in the second round of the 2017 NCAA tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.  Thomas Joseph, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen Rashard Kelly of the Wichita State Shockers takes off his jersey after their 62-65 loss to the Kentucky Wildcats in the second half during the second round of the 2017 NCAA tournament.  Joe Robbins, Getty ImagesFullscreen Deng Adel and Donovan Mitchell of the Louisville Cardinals react to their loss to Michigan.  Joe Robbins, Getty ImagesFullscreen Iowa State players react following the Cyclones' loss to Purdue.  Benny Sieu, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen Virginia forward Mamadi Diakite (25) walks off the court after the Cavaliers' loss to Florida.  Kim Klement, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen Virginia center Jack Salt (center) reacts on the bench during the second half of the Cavaliers' loss against Florida.  Logan Bowles, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen Virginia guards Marial Shayok (4), London Perrantes (32), and Devon Hall (0) react on the bench during the second half of the Cavaliers' loss against Florida.  Logan Bowles, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen Saint Mary's guard Joe Rahon (25) reacts during the Gaels' loss to Arizona.  Joe Camporeale, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen Saint Mary's players react during the Gaels' loss to Arizona.  Kelvin Kuo, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen The Middle Tennessee bench reacts after the Blue Raiders' loss to Butler.  Benny Sieu, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen Middle Tennessee players walk off the court after the Blue Raiders' loss to Butler.  Benny Sieu, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen Florida State forward Jonathan Isaac (1) reacts during the second half of the Seminoles' loss against Xavier.  Logan Bowles, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen Florida State players walk off the court after the Seminoles' loss to Xavier.  Logan Bowles, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen Northwestern guard Isiah Brown (12) hugs guard Bryant McIntosh (30) during the Wildcats' loss to Gonzaga.  Joe Camporeale, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen Northwestern forward Nathan Taphorn (32) hugs head coach Chris Collins during the Wildcats' loss to Gonzaga.  Joe Camporeale, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen Northwestern forward Vic Law (4) reacts during the Wildcats' loss to Gonzaga.  Kelvin Kuo, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen Northwestern coach Chris Collins is called for a technical foul after coming on to the court during the team's game against Gonzaga in the second round of the NCAA tournament.  Christian Petersen, Getty ImagesFullscreen Villanova guard Jalen Brunson (1) walks off the court after the Wildcats' loss to Wisconsin.  Mark Konezny, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen Bonzie Colson of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish reacts after being defeated by the West Virginia Mountaineers 83-71 during the second round of the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at KeyBank Center.  Elsa, Getty ImagesFullscreen Notre Dame Fighting Irish forward Matt Ryan (4) reacts after a loss to the West Virginia Mountaineers during the second round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament at KeyBank Center. West Virginia won 83-71.  Mark Konezny, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen Miami Hurricanes guard Ja'Quan Newton (0) and forward Chris Stowell (35) walk off the court after the game against the Michigan State Spartans in the first round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament at BOK Center.  Brett Rojo, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen Lavone Holland II of the Northern Kentucky Norse reacts after being defeated by the Kentucky Wildcats 79-70 in the first round of the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.  Joe Robbins, Getty ImagesFullscreen Luke Fischer and Andrew Rowsey of the Marquette Golden Eagles reacts to their 73-93 loss to the South Carolina Gamecocks during the first round of the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Bon Secours Wellness Arena.  Kevin C. Cox, Getty ImagesFullscreen Kyle Davis of the Dayton Flyers walks off the court after being defeated by the Wichita State Shockers 64-58 in the first round of the NCAA tournament.  Joe Robbins, Getty ImagesFullscreen J.T. Adenrele and Chima Moneke of the UC Davis Aggies react after loosing to the Kansas Jayhawks 100-62.  J Pat Carter, Getty ImagesFullscreen Troy Trojans guard Wesley Person (3) reacts on the bench during the second half against the Duke Blue Devils in the first round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament at Bon Secours Wellness Arena.  Bob Donnan, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen Southern Methodist Mustangs forward Semi Ojeleye (33) reacts after the game against the USC Trojans in the first round of the 2017 NCAA tournament.  Brett Rojo, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen Ronnie Harrell Jr. of the Creighton Bluejays reacts as his team is defeated by the Rhode Island Rams during the first round of the 2017 NCAA tournament.  Jamie Squire, Getty ImagesFullscreen Creighton Bluejays forward Cole Huff (L) and Bluejays center Justin Patton (R) react on the bench against the Rhode Island Rams in the first round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament at Golden 1 Center.  Kelley L Cox, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen Leyton Hammonds of the Oklahoma State Cowboys reacts against the Michigan Wolverines during the first round of the 2017 NCAA NCAA tournament.  Andy Lyons, Getty ImagesFullscreen Texas Southern's Demontrae Jefferson (3) reacts on the bench during the second half against North Carolina in a first-round game of the NCAA men's college basketball tournament in Greenville.  Rainier Ehrhardt, APFullscreen Semi Ojeleye of the Southern Methodist Mustangs reacts after being defeated by the USC Trojans during the first round of the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at BOK Center.  J Pat Carter, Getty ImagesFullscreen New Mexico State Aggies guard Matt Taylor (24) reacts with guard Braxton Huggins (2) after the game against the Baylor Bears in the first round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament at BOK Center.  Brett Rojo, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen New Mexico State Aggies guard Matt Taylor (24) reacts with guard Braxton Huggins (2) after the game against the Baylor Bears in the first round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament at BOK Center.  Brett Rojo, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen Angel Delgado of the Seton Hall Pirates hugs head coach Kevin Willard.  Kevin C. Cox, Getty ImagesFullscreen Jordan Washington of the Iona Gaels reacts on the bench in the second half against the Oregon Ducks during the first round of the NCAA tournament.  Thearon W. Henderson, Getty ImagesFullscreen Iona Gaels guard Sam Cassell Jr. (1) and Iona Gaels guard E.J. Crawford (2) react after their game against the Oregon Ducks in the first round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament at Golden 1 Center.  Kyle Terada, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen North Dakota forward Drick Bernstine (43) reacts during the Fighting Hawks' loss to Arizona.  Joe Camporeale, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen Florida Gulf Coast guard Brandon Goodwin (0) reacts after the Eagles' loss to Florida State.  Logan Bowles, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen Virginia Tech forward Zach LeDay (32) is greeted by coach Buzz Williams after fouling out during the Hokies' loss to Wisconsin.  Mark Konezny, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen Nevada's D.J. Fenner reacts during the Wolf Pack's loss to Iowa State.  Jonathan Daniel, Getty ImagesFullscreen Virginia Commonwealth guard JeQuan Lewis (1) reacts during the Rams' loss to Saint Mary's.  Kelvin Kuo, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen Vermont forward Payton Henson (35) reacts after the Catamounts' loss to Purdue.  James Lang, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen Minnesota guard Dupree McBrayer (1) reacts after the Golden Gophers' loss to Middle Tennessee.  Benny Sieu, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen Maryland guard Melo Trimble (2) reacts after the Terrapins' loss to Xavier.  Logan Bowles, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen Mount St. Mary's guard Elijah Long (55) is greeted at the bench as he leaves the Mountaineers' loss to Villanova.  Timothy T. Ludwig, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen Vanderbilt Commodores guard Matthew Fisher-Davis (5) reacts following the 68-66 loss against the Northwestern Wildcats in the first round of the NCAA tournament at Vivint Smart Home Arena.  Kelvin Kuo, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen East Tennessee State Buccaneers forward Hanner Mosquera-Perea (12) reacts during the second half against the Florida Gators in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Amway Center.  Kim Klement, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen South Dakota State forward Mike Daum (24) reacts during the Jackrabbits' loss to Gonzaga.  Joe Camporeale, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen South Dakota State Jackrabbits bench reacts during the 66-46 loss against the Gonzaga Bulldogs in the second half of the first round of the NCAA tournament at Vivint Smart Home Arena.  Joe Camporeale, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen Bucknell guard Kimbal Mackenzie (1) reacts during the Bison's loss to West Virginia.  Mark Konezny, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen Winthrop Eagles guard Xavier Cooks (12) embraces his head coach Pat Kelsey after being defeated by the Butler Bulldogs in the first round of the NCAA tournament at BMO Harris Bradley Center.  James Lang, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen Teammates Devontae Cacok and Chuck Ogbodo of the North Carolina-Wilmington Seahawks react on the bench against the Virginia Cavaliers during the first round of the NCAA tournament.  Mike Ehrmann, Getty ImagesFullscreen North Carolina-Wilmington Seahawks guard Chris Flemmings (1) reacts after losing to the Virginia Cavaliers in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Amway Center.  Kim Klement, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen Princeton Tigers guard Myles Stephens (12) reacts in the closing moments of the second half against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the first round of the NCAA tournament at KeyBank Center.  Timothy T. Ludwig, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen The Princeton Tigers bench reacts after a play in the second half against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the first round of the NCAA tournament.  Elsa, Getty ImagesFullscreen Providence Friars guard Maliek White (4) reacts in the second half against the USC Trojans in the first four of the 2017 NCAA Tournament at Dayton Arena.  Rick Osentoski, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen Ron Trapps of the North Carolina Central Eagles reacts after being defeated by the UC Davis Aggies.  Gregory Shamus, Getty ImagesFullscreen John Collins and Austin Arians of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons look on in the second half against the Kansas State Wildcats during the First Four.  Joe Robbins, Getty ImagesFullscreen Wake Forest Demon Deacons forward John Collins (20) reacts to defeat against the Kansas State Wildcats in the first four of the 2017 NCAA Tournament at Dayton Arena.  Rick Osentoski, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen The Mount St. Mary's Mountaineers celebrate as New Orleans Privateers players look in disarray.  Joe Robbins, Getty ImagesFullscreen Coach Mark Slessinger of the New Orleans Privateers reacts during the First Four game against the Mount St. Mary's Mountaineers in the NCAA tournament.  Joe Robbins, Getty ImagesFullscreenReplay1 of 792 of 793 of 794 of 795 of 796 of 797 of 798 of 799 of 7910 of 7911 of 7912 of 7913 of 7914 of 7915 of 7916 of 7917 of 7918 of 7919 of 7920 of 7921 of 7922 of 7923 of 7924 of 7925 of 7926 of 7927 of 7928 of 7929 of 7930 of 7931 of 7932 of 7933 of 7934 of 7935 of 7936 of 7937 of 7938 of 7939 of 7940 of 7941 of 7942 of 7943 of 7944 of 7945 of 7946 of 7947 of 7948 of 7949 of 7950 of 7951 of 7952 of 7953 of 7954 of 7955 of 7956 of 7957 of 7958 of 7959 of 7960 of 7961 of 7962 of 7963 of 7964 of 7965 of 7966 of 7967 of 7968 of 7969 of 7970 of 7971 of 7972 of 7973 of 7974 of 7975 of 7976 of 7977 of 7978 of 7979 of 79AutoplayShow ThumbnailsShow Captions 136 CONNECTTWEETLINKEDIN 10 COMMENTEMAILMORE
close