FINAL SCORE: Duke 68, Cal 53. Bears finish with a season-low point total — previous was 62. Boykin led Cal with 13 points. Randle (12), Robertson (10) and Christopher (2) combined for 24 — got to be their combined season low. Bears finish 24-11. Duke goes to Houston and the Sweet 16.
1:00 2nd H: Monty is letting his five seniors, including Knezevic, play it out.
4:29 2nd H: Sanders-Frison has fouled out. Max is in. MSF finished with seven points, equaling his best. Zoubek hit one of two and it’s 62-45, Duke’s biggest lead. Gutierrez is back in.
4:50 2nd H: MSF just got his fourth PF. And he’s the only Cal player to score in the past 5 minutes.
5:53 2nd H: Christopher just got his third foul. Singler gets three shots: FT, FT, miss. It’s 58-45.
6:35 2nd H: Duke leads 56-45. Sanders-Frison has Cal’s last seven points and has seven for the game. Cal is battling but cannot get over the hump because offense comes so hard. Christopher has two points, Robertson has four fouls and time is running down on the Bears. The Blue Devils are maintaining their hold on things despite the fact that Scheyer and Singler are a combined 2-for-14 from the 3-point line. Robertson is coming back in.Why not?
8:36 2nd H: Gutierrez just went down hard — seemed a bit out of it for a few seconds. He’s come out for Knezevic.
9:26 2nd H: Foul No. 3 on MSF — he’s trying, but he just can’t help it. Duke leads 54-40 after two FTs by Scheyer.
10:42 2nd H: Robertson just picked up No. 4 and is out for MSF.
11:32 2nd H: Duke just extended the lead to 48-37, thanks to a tipin by 7-1 Zoubek, then a layup by the Duke center. Singler and Scheyer are not making shots (each just 1-for-6), but Duke has too many ways to attack you, and the Bears are finding too few.
13:10 2nd H: Robertson just got PF No. 3.
13:41 2nd H: Duke has missed six straight shots but Cal cannot make a move and still trails 44-35.
15:02 2nd H: Duke leads 44-35 after back-to-back 3-pointers by Randle and Robertson. Gutierrez drew his third foul on what appeared (on the replay) to be a charge.
HALFTIME GUEST: Roxy Bernstein has ex-Cal player Solomon Hughes on his halftime show right now on 1550-AM. Hughes is attending Georgia, working on a PhD in educational psychology and playing golf. A good guy.
HALFTIME SCORE: Duke 37, Cal 24. It’s not over, but Duke is doing pretty much what it wants. Cal’s first-half point total equals its lowest of the season. Duke is shooting 50 percent and has a 17-9 rebounding edge. New, official halftime stats have Duke with a 17-14 rebounding edge, and show Cal with three offensive boards, instead of just one. Bears have seven turnovers. Randle has nine points, but Christopher and Robertson are each 1-for-4. Cal does not win when two of those three are off their games.
3:04 1st H: A couple other numbers that are telling — Cal has one offensive rebound and is 1-for-6 from 3-PT.
3:25 1st H: Duke leads 31-19 and is taking charge a bit. These next 3 1/2 minutes are critical for the Bears. They can hang tough or let Duke pull away before the half. Bears have missed five straight shots, two of them by Christopher, who has come up short on three attempts. Very few open 3-point looks, just as Montgomery predicted. Duke has a 16-9 rebounding edge. Gutierrez, MSF back in for Randle, Max.
7:52 1st H: Duke leads 22-17. Randle has seven points for Cal, but Christopher has missed the only shot he’s taken and Robertson has two points. Cal is shooting 57 percent (8-for-14) but trailing because it has six turnovers. Nolan Smith hurting Cal with nine points, including a couple strong, quick drives to the hoop. Max Zhang is checking in for MSF.
10:12 1st H: Gutierrez came out with 10:22 left after getting his second personal foul. The refs just warned Monty about something.
11:51 1st H: Duke leads 16-11. Cal is shooting 5-for-9, but has four turnovers . . . and played most of the first 7-plus minutes without one of its best players. Duke is shooting 7-for-13 and has three offensive rebounds.
12:44 1 st H: Christopher at the scorer’s table, waiting to come in. Apparently suffered a cut above his left eye.
15:21 1st H: Duke jumped out to a 6-0 lead and was killing Cal on the offensive glass. But it’s 6-6 now and Cal has the ball after Gutierrez forced a turnover. Still no sign of Christopher, who went to the locker room, apparently to get some medical attention. Markhuri Sanders-Frison is coming in (for Gutierrez) to provide a little muscle. Duke is brutally physical, especially Zoubek, who nearly separated Knezevic’s head from his body with a wicked pick.
19:24 1st H: Christopher just came out because he is bleeding. Nikola Knezevic in.
STARTING LINEUPS: No surprises. Cal goes with Jerome Randle, Patrick Christopher, Jorge Gutierrez, Theo Robertson and Jamal Boykin. Duke will start Nolan Smith, Jon Scheyer, Kyle Singler, Lance Thomas and Brian Zoubek.
THEY’RE ON THE FLOOR: Both teams have just taken the floor for warmups. The PA man has informed the crowd that tipoff will take place at 5:25 p.m. EDT. So 2:35, if you’re scoring from home.
GREETINGS: Back here at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena, watching the final few moments of Cornell’s very impressive dismantling of Wisconsin. Final score: 87-69, and it wasn’t that close most of the second half.
Here’s something you probably did not know — heck, I didn’t know it until checking a few minutes ago: If Cal beats Duke this afternoon, it will become the only school to have an unbeaten record (with more than one game) against the Blue Devils in NCAA Tournament. The Bears would be 2-0 vs. Duke if it happens.
There was an Artis Gilmore sighting in the arena a few minutes ago — the 7-foot-2 former All-America center for Jacksonville is one of history’s most underrated college big men. Along with Omar Samhan, of course. (Omar and the Gaels are featured on AOL’s Fan House site: “Coolest Cinderella Ever.”)
I’ll be back in a few minutes with lineups and other stuff you simply cannot live without.