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Marvin Bagley III Leads Balanced Duke into Sweet 16 with Win vs. Rhode Island

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorMarch 17, 2018

PITTSBURGH, PA - MARCH 17:  Marvin Bagley III #35 of the Duke Blue Devils shoots the ball against Cyril Langevine #10 of the Rhode Island Rams during the first half in the second round of the 2018 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at PPG PAINTS Arena on March 17, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Marvin Bagley III posted 22 points and nine rebounds as the No. 2 Duke Blue Devils cruised to an 87-62 win over the No. 7 Rhode Island Rams in the second round of the 2018 NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament on Saturday in Pittsburgh.

The key to the game was the Blue Devils' strong first-half performance on both ends: Duke jumped out to a 45-28 halftime lead thanks in part to hot shooting (53.6 percent overall and 46.2 percent from the three-point line) and its zone defense, which caused serious problems for the Rams.

Eamonn Brennan of The Athletic succinctly summed up a few of URI's offensive possessions:

Eamonn Brennan @eamonnbrennan

URI has had a few really good, sharp offensive possessions that have gotten the ball exactly where they want it to be and gotten nothing out of it because of the whole Duke being really good at basketball issue

Seth Davis of CBS Sports also provided remarks on Duke's defensive efforts, which held URI to just 36.7 percent first-half shooting:

Seth Davis @SethDavisHoops

Gonna be hard to beat this Duke zone. Lather, rinse, repeat.

URI guard EC Matthews didn't have much trouble, scoring 13 first-half points (and 23 total). However, the rest of the Rams couldn't get much going, as they combined for just 15 points in the first 20 minutes. Of note, URI leading scorer Jared Terrell (17.0 points per game during the season) had just one first-half free throw and finished with 10 points overall.

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Rhode Island started the game on a 7-2 run, but Duke proceeded to score 31 of the next 40 points, including this four-point play from Grayson Allen:

NCAA March Madness @marchmadness

Grayson Allen with the 4️⃣-point play from DEEP! 👌 #MarchMadness https://t.co/TufjSL3Gyn

Bagley, who is a potential top-three NBA draft pick should he declare this year, also showed his adept post moves with this spinning layup:

NCAA March Madness @marchmadness

Bagley with the spin cycle for @DukeMBB! 🌪🌪🌪 #MarchMadness https://t.co/qh0NNZ2mtY

The Blue Devils' second-half advantage never fell below 15 points en route to their 25-point victory, and all five starters scored at least 10 points each. 

As Joe Giglio of the News & Observer noted, the Duke team that showed up Saturday will be difficult to stop:

Joe Giglio @jwgiglio

Fully-engaged Duke is in Pittsburgh. Fully-engaged Duke is not losing to anyone

With the victory, Mike Krzyzewski became the winningest coach in D-I history, breaking former Tennessee women's coach Pat Summitt's record. NCAA March Madness passed along his comments after win number 1,099:

NCAA March Madness @marchmadness

"The lady who had that record would have run hundreds more. Pat Summitt was as good of a coach as there was." Coach K on passing the late great coach for most wins in Division I basketball history. #MarchMadness https://t.co/v4Uhsr07gI

The Blue Devils have advanced to the Sweet 16 and will face the winner of Sunday's second-round matchup between the Michigan State Spartans and Syracuse Orange on Friday, March 23, in Omaha, Nebraska. A time has yet to be announced.

Rhode Island finishes its season with a 26-8 record.

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