If you’re a heavy underdog and you let Duke jump out to an early lead, coming back could be nearly impossible.
2 seed Duke took a 14-5 lead over 15 seed Iona in the opening minutes of their first-round game in Pittsburgh Thursday and cruised to an 89-67 win.
Though Iona responded to tie the game at 19, Duke started building its lead from there. Trevon Duval and Marvin Bagley III keyed a 21-6 run that took about eight minutes of game time, and Duke took a 53-39 lead into halftime.
Duke then opened the second half on a 12-2 run, stunning the Gaels out of the locker room and ending any hope the MAAC champs had on staging a comeback.
Bagley was the star in his NCAA Tournament debut, scoring 22 points on 10-14 shooting to go with seven rebounds. As a team, Duke shot 53 percent — a number that actually hovered around 60 for most of the game. The Gaels had three players in double figures, led by 11 from TK Edogi.
The Blue Devils now advance to play Rhode Island, which beat Oklahoma in an overtime thriller earlier this afternoon.