GREENVILLE, S.C. — The Mike Krzyzewski era at Duke will last at least one more game.
Five players scored in double figures to lead No. 2 Duke past No. 15 Cal State Fullerton 78-61, as the Blue Devils avoided becoming the latest top seed to be sent packing early from this year’s topsy-turvy men’s NCAA Tournament.
Duke (29-6, 16-4) was led by freshman forward Paolo Banchero, who had 17 points and 10 rebounds. Sophomore center Mark Williams added 15 points and five blocks.
Ahead 17-4 after six minutes, the Blue Devils were played to a draw through the end of the first half. Up 37-27 at the break, Duke held a double-digit advantage for the game’s final 19 minutes, leading by as many as 20 points with 12 minutes left.
The Blue Devils shot 50.9% from the field, including 40.9% from 3-point range. The Titans hit on just 37.5% of attempts.
The win eases some of the fears over Duke’s youth and inexperience on college basketball’s biggest stage. Only one substantial contributor, senior guard Joey Baker, had played in a tournament game before Friday night, while five of the Blue Devils’ six leading scorers during the regular season were freshmen or sophomores.
“The main thing is just to try to be who we’ve been most of the season but at the highest level,” Krzyzewski said Thursday. “Just to look at it, it’s not just one game at a time, it’s one championship at a time because, if you don’t win it, you’re not going to win a championship.”
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The winningest coach in men’s NCAA history, Krzyzewski has won five national championships, most recently in 2015, and coached Duke into every NCAA Tournament but two since 1984.
The Blue Devils advance to the second round of the West Regional and will face the winner of Friday night’s game between No. 7 Michigan State and No. 10 Davidson.