South Region: Duke crushes Robert Morris
Charlotte, N.C. — Robert Morris kept fighting, even if top-seeded Duke wasn't about to let the Colonials make history.
The 16th-seeded Colonials hung in while the Blue Devils made every shot to start the game, and then fought back to twice get within 10 points midway through the second half. But Duke pulled away to an 85-56 win Friday night in the NCAA Tournament's round of 64.
For coach Andrew Toole, it was a teachable moment.
"What I tried to explain to them (afterward) was one of the reasons that we push so hard and we demand so much and hold you to such a high standard is because these are the games that we want to compete it in," he said. "These are the games we want to be in and we want to play better than we played tonight."
The Colonials regrouped from Duke's opening flurry and ran off a 10-0 run to get to 54-44 on Rodney Pryor's layup with 12:26 left, seizing a glimmer of hope for their boisterous fans. But Duke soon ran off a 12-0 run, restoring order on the way to a routine 1-vs-16 finish.
A No. 16 seed has never defeated a No. 1 seed.
"They had the home crowd advantage, but the energy in the building just gives both teams energy, I believe," Pryor said, "We tried our best to feed off their energy, stay poised, stay calm and things like that. So it was fun playing out there."
Quinn Cook scored 22 points while freshman Jahlil Okafor added 21 as the Blue Devils (30-4) wasted little time getting their offense revving.
That's not to say everything went smoothly for Duke, a team with half of its eight scholarship players making their tournament debut. Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski furiously burned a timeout after Okafor blew a reverse dunk, while Robert Morris — which had to win a First Four game to get here — showed plenty of fight and kept hanging around for the first part of the second half.
Duke shot 63 percent in the program's 100th NCAA Tournament victory.
Next up for Duke is San Diego State on Sunday in the round of 32 of the South Region. The Blue Devils are a No. 1 seed for the 11th time in 18 seasons, though this is their first since 2011.
More importantly, Duke got off to a good start in the tournament after a pair of shocking one-and-done exits in the previous three seasons, both coming in its home state of North Carolina.
Cook made 8 of 12 shots, including a 6-for-10 performance from behind the arc.
Pryor scored 23 points on 10-for-19 shooting for Robert Morris, the Northeast Conference champions who were in their eighth NCAA Tournament.
Iowa 83, Davidson 52: At Seattle, Aaron White scored 26 for Iowa (22-11). Mike Gesell scored 15 and Peter Jok 12.
Jack Gibbs and Peyton Aldridge scored 14 apiece for Davidson (24-8).
White scored 13 straight points as part of Iowa's 18-3 run early in the second half.
The Hawkeyes won their first NCAA Tournament game since 2001 when they were also a No. 7 seed and won their opener.
San Diego State 76, St. John's 64: At Charlotte, North Carolina, JJ O'Brien scored 18 points, and Dwayne Polee II added 15 points on five 3-pointers in San Diego State's opening game of the NCAA Tournament. Skylar Spencer added 10 points and seven rebounds for the Aztecs (27-8), who'll face the South's top-seeded Duke Blue Devils on Sunday.
The Aztecs never trailed in the second half and improved to 6-4 in NCAA Tournament play since 2011 under coach Steve Fisher.
Polee, who transferred from St. John's early in his college career, made national headlines when he collapsed on the court during a game against UC Riverside in December because of an irregular heartbeat. He was 5 of 7 on 3-pointers.
Sir'Dominic Pointer had 21 points and 10 rebounds, and D'Angelo Harrison added 18 points for St. John's, which failed in its quest to win its first Tournament game since 2000.
Gonzaga 86, North Dakota State 76: For Gonzaga, it's on to the next round. For North Dakota State, it's back to the market.
At Seattle, Kyle Wiltjer scored 23 points to lift the second-seeded Bulldogs over the team that lifts weights in an out-of-commission grocery store.
The Zags (33-2) will play Iowa on Sunday to try to make the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2009.
Dexter Werner had a career-high 22 points for North Dakota State.
The 15th-seeded Bison (23-10), upset winners over Oklahoma as a 12 seed last year, couldn't muster a repeat. Still, it was quite a season for a team that lost three starters and its head coach after last year and had to improvise on things like weight rooms and practice space while their facilities are being overhauled.