COLUMBIA, S.C. — Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett combined for 51 points No. 1 seed Duke pulled away for an 85-62 win over No. 16 seed North Dakota State in a March Madness East Regional NCAA Tournament game on Friday.
The top overall seeded Blue Devils (30-5) led by just four points at halftime, but opened the second half on a 9-0 run and never looked back en route to the comfortable first-round game victory.
Barrett recorded a double-double with 26 points and 14 rebounds, while fellow freshman sensation Williamson scored 25 points on 12 of 16 shooting from the floor.
“In the second half, we played beautiful basketball,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said.
Williamson, who thrilled the crowd with a number of dunks in an explosive NCAA Tournament debut, was rested for a big portion of the second half, despite not picking up a single foul in the game.
“We did start out very sluggish. We weren’t playing very well,” Williamson admitted. “But I think in the second half we calmed down, and we just started playing Duke basketball.”
Cam Reddish added 12 points for Duke, which shot almost 51 percent overall from the field.
Vinnie Shahid scored 20 points to lead North Dakota State in the defeat.
Jordan Horn ended with 11 points for the Bison (19-16), who trailed 31-27 at the
North Dakota State coach David Richman said the Blue Devils proved why they were selected as the No. 1 overall seed.
“Duke was the No. 1 overall seed there, especially in the second half, they get out in transition like that and turn you over, they’re elite,” said Richman.
“That’s an exceptional team, and it was a pleasure to coach against Coach K and for our guys to compete in that environment.”
With a big lead and just over four and a half minutes remaining in the second half, Krzyzewski emptied the Duke bench.
“In the second half, we played just beautiful basketball for those 12 minutes, and then we subbed, and they subbed.
The Blue Devils (31-5) will face the winner of the clash between the eighth-seeded VCU versus No. 9 seed UCF on Sunday in the second round.
North Dakota State’s season comes to an end.