Coach K Has No Choice But To Give Mid Majors Props In Loss To Mercer

NCAA Basketball: ACC Tournament-Duke vs NC State

I’ll get in trouble probably for saying it. Like the Atlantic 10, they’re a really good conference. I hear people saying there are six teams in there. Come on. I mean, they’re good, but put them in our conference and go through the meat grinder that our conference has to go through.

That quote was from Coach K last week in response to a question asked about the lack of respect the ACC was getting.

In one of the biggest early 2014 NCAA tournament shockers, the Mercer Bears defeated the Duke Blue Devils in Raleigh 78 to 71.

Despite out-rebounding the Bears 35 – 27 and making 15 3-pointers, the Blue Devils didn’t have enough to beat a Mercer team lead by 5 seniors.

During the entire game Mercer kept themselves very composed, answering every Duke run or big play with one of their own.

We’re a veteran team, Bear forward Jakob Gollon said. We’ve been saying it all week, every time everybody’s asking us about that kind of stuff. We’ve got a lot of seniors. When it gets to have out there, when it gets loud to call plays and stuff, a lot of guys stay focused, keep everyone calm and stay collected.

Duke’s leadership on the court has come from freshman Jabari Parker and redshirt sophomore Rodney Hood, but the two were stifled by a Bears defense that held the pair to 6 of 24 from the floor for just 20 points.

Mercer was also able to completely shut down Duke’s inside game and limited their ability to drive to the basketball forcing the Blue Devils to attempt more than half of their shots from behind the 3-point arc.

The Bears’ victory over Duke marks only the second time in their tournament history that they’ve been eliminated in their first game and twice in the span of three years (Lehigh).   Mercer improved to 23-0 when holding its opponent to 74 or fewer points this season and it’s the 12th time they’ve shot over 50% from the field this year.

I want to wish Mercer the very best. I love the game and when the game’s played really well, I hope it’s us that’s playing it. But when it’s the other team, you applaud it. I applaud Mercer and they were absolutely terrific today. And thank you for a great season, being with us.

And that’s how Duke’s Coach K ended his season today – having to eat the words spoken just five days earlier – when his 3rd seeded Blue Devils lost to the Atlantic Sun’s Mercer Bears.

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