No. 4 Duke pulls away from scrappy No. 13 Vermont to avoid March Madness upset


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BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Duke took the court for pregame warmups just as No. 4 Auburn was upset by No. 13 Yale, and the Blue Devils decided one upset was enough for the day.

Although it got a little too close for comfort, the fourth-seeded Blue Devils pulled away from No. 13 Vermont for a 64-47 victory.

Duke knocked down six of its first seven shots in the first half but made just four of its last 16 and watched a 10-point lead diminish to two. 

But Duke led 34-29 at half by shooting 11-for-16 from the line, while Vermont took just three free throws and missed them all.

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Mark Mitchell of the Duke Blue Devils reacts after dunking the ball during the first half against the Vermont Catamounts in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Barclays Center March 22, 2024,in New York City.  (Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

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A pro-Vermont crowd — perhaps more anti-Duke — went wild as the Catamounts cut it to two again after a one-and-one, but the Blue Devils went on a 12-3 run to take a 48-37 lead with less than 10 minutes left.

A couple of minutes later, Vermont quickly scored five straight points for a momentum shift, but Duke responded with six straight and built a game-high 12-point lead with 4:53 to go. Duke then held a lead of at least nine for the remainder of the game.

In the final 16:32, Duke outscored Vermont, 28-13, including an 8-0 run in the final 4:44.

Duke players high fiving

Tyrese Proctor (5) and Jared McCain (0) of the Duke Blue Devils celebrate during the first half against the Vermont Catamounts in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Barclays Center March 22, 2024, in New York City.  (Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

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Four Blue Devils reached double-digits. Blue Devils star Kyle Filipowski only had three points, all on free throws. He took just one shot, but he grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds. Outside of Shamir Bogues (18) and Aaron Deloney (14), the rest of the Catamounts combined for just 15 points, with their next-highest scorer putting up just five. Jared McCain and Mark Mitchell led Duke with 15 each.

Duke awaits the winner of No. 5 Wisconsin and No. 12 James Madison, which tips off at Barclays Center later Friday.

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