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Houston • Utah played along with Duke forward Justise Winslow's homecoming celebration.

Having observed his 19th birthday Thursday in his hometown, the freshman emerged as the Blue Devils' biggest star in Friday's 63-57 victory over the Utes in a South Region semifinal game at NRG Stadium.

Ute coach Larry Krystkowiak said afterward that he was willing to live with Winslow's outside shooting, while focusing his defense on center Jahlil Okafor. Winslow went 3 of 4 from 3-point range and 8 of 13 overall, scoring 21 points and grabbing 10 rebounds as the No. 1-seeded Blue Devils advanced to Sunday's Elite Eight meeting with Gonzaga.

The strategy "got us, no doubt about it," Krystkowiak said.

Winslow's approach? "Shoot my bullets," he said. "Whenever they sag off, just try to get into the lane or knock down shots."

Winslow guessed that about 100 friends, family members and followers of St. John's School in Houston attended the game to support him. "I'm glad to be home, but like I said, it's a business trip," he said.

He would like to make the visit just another stop on the road to the Final Four in Indianapolis. Without Winslow's shooting success, Duke may have been upset by No. 5-seeded Utah.

The Utes' defensive scheme "just about took [Okafor] out of the game," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. Okafor scored only six points and lost four turnovers in the face of a double-teaming defense. Krzyzewski credited Krystkowiak for using "great tactics" with a variety of defensive looks, especially in the first half, and raved about him throughout the postgame news conference.

"It was tough for both teams to score," Krzyzewski said, saying his own players "have gotten a bum rap for not being able to play defense."

He pointed to the Blue Devils' adaptability for enabling them to shoot 44.4 percent from the field, compared with Utah's 35 percent. Other than Winslow, however, Duke made only 12 of 32 shots.

The Blue Devils (32-4) led by 15 points in the last nine minutes. Utah got within five points, but Duke secured the victory with adequate free-throw shooting.

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