Duke guard Jared McCain (0) and guard Tyrese Proctor (5)...

Duke guard Jared McCain (0) and guard Tyrese Proctor (5) reacts after McCain scored a 3-point basket during the first half of a second-round college basketball game against James Madison in the NCAA Tournament, Sunday, March 24, 2024. Credit: Mary Altaffer

No one could really judge how long it would take for Duke to recover from Mike Krzyzewski’s retirement after the 2021-22 season. The answer came Sunday.

A year after losing in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, the Blue Devils returned to the Sweet 16 by ending James Madison’s spectacular season with an overpowering 93-55 South Regional second-round victory at Barclays Center.

And Duke did it while flying in the face of the recent notion that The Big Dance has become the domain of the older, more experienced teams rather than the younger players who stop by for a year or two.

Freshman Jared McCain made his first six three-point shots and rolled to 30 points, including a school-tournament-record eight three-pointers, for fourth-seeded Duke (26-8). Sophomore Tyrese Proctor had 18 points with four threes and five assists.

The Blue Devils will make their 29th Sweet 16 appearance and first since 2022. They’ll play No. 1 Houston on Friday night in Dallas.

“For these types of games, you just want to win, and I want to do everything I can to win,” said McCain, who is expected to be a first-round pick in this year’s NBA Draft. “Tonight if it’s making shots, making threes, whatever it was . . . It’s the best feeling in the world when you know the work that you put in is showing up on the court, especially in such a big game like this to go to the Sweet 16.”

Senior Jeremy Roach had 15 points and six assists and sophomore Kyle Filipowski — a potential NBA lottery pick — added 14 points for Duke.

Terrence Edwards Jr scored 13 points and T.J. Bickerstaff had 11 for JMU (32-4).

The Dukes, in their first tournament since 2013, were riding a 14-game winning streak — the longest in the nation — and were seeking their first trip to the Sweet 16.

The runs of San Diego State and Florida Atlantic to the 2023 Final Four added to the narrative that the college game is beginning to favor the more experienced players. And when Kentucky, laden with youngsters, was upset by 14th-seeded Oakland in the first round Thursday, it added fuel to the notion.

Coach K stopped resisting the “one-and-done’’ players before the 2014-15 season and ended up taking Duke to a victory over Wisconsin in the national championship game in which every point in the second half was scored by one of its freshmen.

“Should I not have recruited Jared McCain because he would be a freshman?” Duke coach Jon Scheyer said. “At the end of the day, you go after the guys you believe in . . . We won a national championship with a freshman-heavy group [in 2015]. We’ve gone to two Elite Eights where you’re right there . . . With this group, certainly helps to have a Jeremy Roach. The ’15 team had Quinn Cook.”

The Blue Devils grabbed control early and never let go. They raced to a 24-8 lead after the first 8:11, with McCain making his first three three-point attempts, and rolled to a 47-25 halftime lead. McCain had 22 first-half points and was 6-for-8 on threes.

The Blue Devils were dominant at virtually every spot on the floor. The guard trio of McCain, Proctor and Roach was 22-for-38 shooting with 12 assists and one turnover. The frontcourt, led by Filipowski, turned 12 offensive rebounds into 21 points.

JMU didn’t help itself by missing 10 free throws and committing 14 turnovers that the Blue Devils turned into 24 points.


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