CHARLOTTE, N.C. >> San Diego State never had the chance to get comfortable against Duke.
The Aztecs got off to a bad start and fell behind by double figures, shooting just 33 percent in Sunday’s 68-49 loss to the Blue Devils in the NCAA Tournament’s round of 32.
“I think they bothered us with their pressure,” senior JJ O’Brien said. “They did a good job denying our wings, getting us out of our sets a little bit.”
Duke got off to a fast start for the second straight tournament game, scoring the game’s first eight points and speeding up the tempo to take early control. The Aztecs, meanwhile, missed their first seven shots and started 5 for 24 (21 percent), leaving them to try to rally against an offense that hummed nearly its entire two-game stay in Charlotte.
Only one player — Winston Shepard — scored in double figures, while the Aztecs made 2 of 13 3-pointers for the game.
“What happened to us was created a lot by Duke,” coach Steve Fisher said. Fisher said it was a worst-case scenario to get behind so big early in the game.
For Duke, Jahlil Okafor scored 18 of his 26 points in a dominating first half that helped send the top-seeded Blue Devils back to the Sweet 16.
Fellow freshman Justise Winslow added 13 points and 12 rebounds for Duke (31-4), which for the second straight tournament game ran out to a quick lead and stayed in control the rest of the way.
Duke — holding a No. 1 seed for the 11th time in 18 seasons but its first since 2011 — advanced to face fifth-seeded Utah in Houston’s South Region semifinals.
Mike Krzyzewski’s Blue Devils are pushing for their 12th Final Four and completed their two-game stay in their home state with a pair of hot-shooting wins.
Duke shot 55 percent against the eighth-seeded Aztecs (27-9), two days after shooting 63 percent against Robert Morris.
The Aztecs were trying to reach the Sweet 16 for the third time under coach Fisher, but San Diego State — with a few players and coaches battling a stomach ailment –struggled to slow Duke early.
Duke shot 53 percent to lead 37-24 at halftime. The Aztecs fought back within 44-37 on a 3-pointer from Malik Pope with 12:42 left, then got the ball back with a chance to inch closer.
But Trey Kell missed an open shot in the lane, and Duke pushed the ball back downcourt for a 3 from Cook — a crushing five-point swing and the start of an 11-0 run that killed any chance for San Diego State to get back in it.