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Sunday, March 21, 2010
Final: Duke 68, California 53

By Brian Bennett

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The first weekend of the NCAA tournament went about as smoothly as Duke could have hoped.

The Blue Devils didn't fall victim to a shocking upset and received hardly a challenge on their way to the Sweet 16. And given their recent tournament history, that's noteworthy in itself.

Duke methodically took down eighth-seeded California 68-53 on Sunday. The Golden Bears made one little run in the second half to get within seven points at 44-37, but the Blue Devils quickly extinguished that fire and kept the margin safely at double digits down the stretch.

It was an impressive defensive effort against a California team that lives to run-and-gun and shoots from anywhere beyond the midcourt stripe. The Bears went just 3-for-12 on three-pointers and their Big Three of Jerome Randle, Theo Robertson and Patrick Christopher were held in check, totaling just 35 points.

Duke's Nolan Smith led all scorers with 20 points and hounded Randle defensively. Brian Zoubek had 14 points and 12 rebounds, six of them on the offensive glass. The Blue Devils owned a 38-24 advantage on points in the paint.