A sampling of reaction from across the country after Arizona’s 93-77 victory over Duke:
Andy Staples, Sports Illustrated:
ANAHEIM, Calif. — An almost perplexed smile crawled across the face of Arizona forward Derrick Williams as he walked off the court Thursday. He had sunk a 27-footer to cap the best half of any person in this NCAA tournament, but he couldn’t celebrate and probably felt a little guilty about even smiling. After all, his Wildcats trailed by six.
Twenty basketball minutes later, Arizona point guard MoMo Jones stood at midcourt and slammed the ball down to cap the best half any team has played in this tournament. As the orange Wilson bounced almost to the Honda Center scoreboard that read Arizona 93, Duke 77, Jones balled his fists, shut his eyes and screamed.
“THEY COUNTED US OUT!”
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Dennis Dodd, CBS Sports:
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Choose a memory from one of the epic beatdowns of basketball’s royal family. That’s the problem, isn’t it? You can’t. There isn’t just one enduring image from Arizona’s 93-77 backhanding of Duke.
You could choose Derrick Williams who put the “I” in team — thankfully for the Wildcats — by scoring 25 of his team’s 38 points in the first half and 32 for the game.
You could unboggle your mind by recalling dunks by Williams and Jamelle Horne 75 seconds apart in the second half. That’s dunk — plural — on Duke. In a half.
You could practically see the Blue Devils gasping for breath as Arizona coach Sean Miller ran 10 players at Duke. Eight of them played at least 12 minutes.
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Mark Kriegel, FoxSports.com:
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Nolan Smith stared at the box score as if it were something rotting and contagious. Kyle Singler looked red-faced and raw. In that moment, waiting for the postgame autopsy to begin, the seniors from Duke looked like freshman: vulnerable, overwhelmed, broken-hearted.
This was to be their glorious final act. Everything was in place for the West Region’s No. 1 seed. The Blue Devils, college basketball’s most blue-blooded program, had the experience, the balance, and with Kyrie Irving returning from injured toe, an abundance of talent. Their march to a second consecutive national championship would coincide with their coach gaining the all-time record for victories.
But now Mike Krzyzewski is stuck on 900.
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Diamond Leung, ESPN.com:
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Derrick Williams had sensed the disrespect. In his mind, not many thought Arizona could actually upset defending national champion Duke.
But with Williams, the Wildcats have a game-changer unlike any other. By the time he got done scoring 32 points and grabbing 13 rebounds in a 93-77 win against Duke, Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski was left heaping praise on the star sophomore and telling the 6-foot-8 forward that he was indeed special.
“He’s as good as anybody we’ve played, or I should say better than anybody we’ve played,” said Krzyzewski, who finished the season with 900 career Division I wins. “Even when he’s not scoring, he spreads you out. There is a physicality to his game. Clean, beautiful — he’s a beautiful player.”
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Ben Bolch, Los Angeles Times:
Derrick Williams grabbed the front of his jersey at chest level and pushed out the name on the front for everyone to see.
Arizona was no longer just a nice little regional story from an afterthought of a conference.
Not after the second-half smackdown the fifth-seeded Wildcats administered Thursday night at Honda Center during a 93-77 drubbing of top-seeded Duke in an NCAA West Regional semifinal.