Frank Martin said he adopted the defensive philosophy of Mike Krzyzewski-coached Duke teams.
Coach K was honored to hear that.
“I’m honored that he would say that,” Krzyzewski said a day before Martin’s South Carolina defense beat the Blue Devils Sunday in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
“If you’re in this business as long as I’ve been in, that means you’ve probably had pretty good success,” Krzyzewski said. “And so, someone’s going to pattern a little bit (after you).”
Martin’s defensive strategy worked against Krzyzewski, who’s been coaching at Duke for 37 years, as the No. 7 seed Gamecocks stunned the No. 2 Blue Devils, 88-81, at Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, S.C.
The Gamecocks limited the Blue Devils to 38.9 percent shooting and 5-of-19 in 3-point shooting in the second half.
South Carolina (24-10) advanced to the Sweet 16, where it will meet No. 3 seed Baylor (27-7) on Friday at 7:29 p.m.
Duke (28-9), a team equipped with a star freshman group and veterans and the favorite to win this year’s NCAA tournament, was supposed to be the team advancing to the next round.
Duke, after a regular season of unyielding tumult, a controversial trip and never-ending setbacks, was on the verge of seeing the light. The Blue Devils had won four back-to-back, high-intensity conference tournament games to become ACC champions for the first time since 2011.
Fewer and fewer injuries bogged them down.
The Blue Devils were the No. 2 seed in the East region and one game away from Madison Square Garden, a venue where they hold a 30-11 record under Krzyzewski. South Carolina will move to its first round of 16 since 1973, forcing Duke’s first Round of 32 exit since a 73-67 loss to West Virginia in 2008. That year was Duke’s second straight early exit after reaching the Sweet 16 from 1998 to 2006, when they went to the Final Four three times and won the 2011 national championship.
But South Carolina’s defense spawned a second-half offense that shot 71.4 percent.
The Gamecocks had only made seven field goals in the first half, but they made their first five of six – five straight – to start the second.
That was the only the beginning of South Carolina showing little intimidation of Duke’s press.
“I thought we were playing our butts off,” Krzyzewski said. “We got worn down. It’s the most physical game we’ve been in all year.”
Duke never regained the lead after P.J Dozier’s and-1 lifted the Gamecocks to a 49-48 lead with 12:03 left. Even after shooting 20 percent in the first half on just seven made field goals, South Carolina nearly tripled that number after halftime. It finished 27-of-63 for 42.9 percent in the game.
Duke shot 22-of-53 for 41.5 percent and had five players finish in double figures, led by junior guard Grayson Allen’s 20.
Three, including Luke Kennard fouled out of the physical game.
“Just try to do anything you can,” Krzyzewski said of the physicality. “The game was just very complex in the second half with the fouls.”
Jessika Morgan: 919-829-4538, @JessikaMorgan