6:40: Family (huge Duke fans) from North Carolina are here for Christmas and I’ll be watching the game with them tonight. I am prepared to win or lose excessive amounts of money tonight depending on the outcome.
6:50: On PTI today, Tony Korheiser gave Pitt a 4% chance of winning and Michael Wilbon gave us at 25% chance. Jay Bilas says on SportsCenter that Duke is also built more for the postseason. It’s still December…
7:02: The team looked fired up in the pregame.
We have tip-off. Go Pitt.
7:05: The clocks at MSG are performing about as well as the Knicks have this year. Still waiting…
7:08: Finally we’re actually going to play. DeJuan Blair gets an early 2 on a nice move. Already we’re seeing the Duke screen plays at the top of the key lead to a wide open lane. Can’t expect Blair to switch on a pick to cover a quick guard. Duke is picking up the defense at about 3/4 court, much earlier than we’ve seen from any other team this year.
7:11: Maybe Blair should have dished it to Fields for the break, maybe he shouldn’t. Oh well. Four offensive turnovers already — ouch.
7:16: Sam Young with a horrible missed dunk.
I feel like on at least two occasions, Ronald Ramon was maybe going to shoot a 3 but was confused by the NBA three-point line.
Stuart makes a good point in the comments: “Duke seems to have a good plan with making Ramon bring it up – its taking Fields out of the game and causing Ramon to turn it over way too much.”
7:28: Gil Brown has knocked down a jumper and blocked a shot which lead to Blair basically getting tackled. Both teams look sloppy — Pitt more than Duke, though. Duke is up 3 with 9:20 left in the half.
7:35: Even more turnovers. Traveling, stepping out of bounds, offensive fouls, bad ball handling…
Dixon takes his first timeout of the game after Paulus nails a three.
7:41: Duke is just a team of tall white dudes who know how to flop. The refs are starting to lean towards Coach K and we haven’t scored in about 5 minutes. The double teams on Blair are starting to work and he’s getting trapped in the lost post without a place to pass it to. On defense it looks like Pitt has never seen a team use a screen and Duke has all kinds of open shots and drives. The Duke family members have taken over my basement.
13 turnovers and counting.
7:55: So that was a pretty ugly half of basketball. We have no leader on the floor and the entire team needs to collectively calm down. Not at all impressed with Ramon, which makes me realize how much better I felt with Antonio Graves last year. If Ramon isn’t even going to hit his three pointers (0-3) then why does he even play? Sam Young and Mike Cook need to both settle for less jump shots and drive more. Too much of the offense is happening very far from the basket, which is a combination of Duke’s good defense plus Pitt’s offense which is playing like crap. The “help defense” being played on Blair has been working very well for Duke and ‘m sure we’ll see plenty more in the 2nd half. Oh, and hitting some free throws would be nice too.
Halftime: Duke 34 — Pitt 22
8:19: Deficit is down to single digits followed by an easy layup for Duke and a turnover by Fields. Just awesome…
8:26: Definitely should have been a charge called on Duke but instead they turn it into a three point play. The Duke fans/family members who are here are complaining now about those last two calls going Pitt’s way but it’s obvious that they’re both make-up calls. Are they going to make us listen to Duke’s football coach now? They haven’t been good in forever — put Wanny on!
8:30: Pitt is in the bonus only five minutes into the half. Foul shots could be key to winning this one since it’s likely we’ll have plenty of chances.
8:39: We’ve seen this team come back like this in the past and we all know they can do it. Easier said than done, though. In other news, Willie Parker was just carted off the field with a toe/ankle injury. Now back to the game that matters. Down 43-36 with 11:30 left.
8:44: Yet another horrible shot from Ramon leads to a stupid intentional foul on Blair. Duke hits 2 FTs and gets possession.
8:50: If we’re doing anything right, it’s that we’re running the fast break so well. Duke got the hype for running the Phoenix Suns type of break but Pitt is doing it better tonight. Still missing way too many open shots but it looks like the Blue Devils are starting to do the same. Yet another Duke flop — I feel like I’m watching a soccer game. Hard to complain only down by one with a little under 8:00 to go.
8:57: Please take Ramon out (0-5 from three) before the remote gets thrown through the TV. Pleas please please. If he can’t perform his one strength then he becomes useless. First lead since the very beginning of the game.
9:09: Singler just nailed a huge (HUGE!) three to tie it up. 1:31 left and starting to get nervous.
9:11: Another wide open shot gets missed. Coach K takes his final timeout to set something up for the final 16.6 seconds. Duke has looked good on each of their last few offensive possessions — time to break that streak.
End of Regulation: Pitt 58, Duke 58
9:19: Ugh…Mike Cook just went down with what looks like a very ugly knee injury. Duke fans, classy as always, start a “Let’s go Duke” chant.
9:27: Blair fouls out with 15 points and 20 rebounds. Tied game with 96 seconds but Duke is at the line to try the 3 point play.
9:40: Levance Fields goes streetball on us, breaks McClure’s ankles to make some room and hits the trey with 4 seconds left. What a clutch shot he hit there and a nice job to create his own space. Duke comes down and hurries an ugly three — game over. Dennis is about to recieve a nice payday from his Duke loving relatives. I’m also going to take it upon myself to make their stay here as bad as I can. I expect tomorrow I’ll wake them up with a “P-I-T-T” cheer.
Final: Pitt 65, Duke 64