They have a saying about offense, defense and championships.
Going into the NCAA Tournament title game, the big matchup was Duke’s defense against Wisconsin’s offense. And the Blue Devils showed that there’s truth to the old adage by holding off the Badgers in the final minutes en route to a 68-63 win and the school’s fifth championship.
Unsurprisingly, the two teams played to a stalemate in the first half and headed to the locker rooms tied at 31 points apiece. They traded leads throughout the first 20 minutes — 13 times to be specific — and even after Duke seemed to be containing Wisconsin, the Badgers came surging back.
Wisconsin entered the second half on a mission and led by as many as nine points behind center Frank Kaminsky, who finished the night with 21 points. Duke also took a hit as star freshmen Justise Winslow and Jahlil Okafor reached three fouls early, forcing coach Mike Krzyzewski to bench them when they were needed most.
But different pair of freshmen stepped up.
Tyus Jones and Grayson Allen — who had 19 and 10 second-half points, respectively — helped the Blue Devils creep up on the Badgers as their defense kept Wisconsin at bay. Before you knew it, Duke had an eight-point lead with only 1:23 to go. Wisconsin did its best to come back, but Duke’s defense was just too much, and the Blue Devils were the ones to cut down the net.
The championship also is the fifth for Krzyzewski, who moves into sole possession of second place for all-time championship wins behind John Wooden’s 10 with UCLA.
Thumbnail photo via Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY Sports Images
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