Duke 31 – 37 — 68
Wisconsin 31 – 32 — 63
Are we sure they’re freshmen?
Duke’s first-year players played beyond their years once again and the Blue Devils secured another National Championship with a 68-63 win over Wisconsin Monday night in Indianapolis.
Tyus Jones scored 23 points, including 19 in the second half, and fellow freshman Grayson Allen added 16 off the bench and the Blue Devils (35-4) overcame a 9-point deficit for their first title since 2010 and fifth overall. Allen was averaging just 4 points per game and scored in double-digits just 4 times before Monday night.
Spending much of the second half on the bench with 4 fouls, Jahlil Okafor made his presence felt with 2 big baskets when he returned to the court late in the second half. The freshman All-American finished with 10 points. And a 4th rookie, Justise Winslow, scored 11 points.
Player of the year Frank Kaminsky led Wisconsin (36-4) with 21 points and 12 rebounds. Nigel Hayes scored 13 points and Sam Dekker added 12 for the Badgers, who made back-to-back Final Fours and were looking for their first championship since 1941.
Click here for a complete boxscore.
Both Teams Struggled From the Floor in the Early Going
Perhaps it was early-game jitters, but both teams came out cold, especially Wisconsin. The Badgers were just 2-for-8 from the floor at the first TV timeout with 15:36 left in the first half.
Duke was better, hitting 3 of 7 shots to take the 6-5 lead.
Wisconsin starting guard Josh Gasser had to be taken to the locker room after taking a finger to the eye when going up for a rebound, but he returned to the bench with 14 minutes left in the half.
He re-entered the game in with 13:10 remaining.
UW Didn’t Commit Its First Foul Until the 11:38 Mark in the 1st Half
Wisconsin didn’t commit a foul until 11:38 left in the first half.
The Badgers had made 1 of 2 free throws, the only of the game to that point.
Duke’s Defensive Intensity Picked Up Midway Through the 1st Half
Duke had 4 blocked shots – 3 by Justise Winslow – and 3 steals by the time the game made it to the third official timeout with 7:14 left in the half. The Blue Devils were also holding the Badgers to 33 percent shooting and held a 21-17 lead.
Just before the timeout, though, Winslow picked up his second foul.
Wisconsin Used a Late Run to Grab a Lead
The Badgers used an 14-6 run to take a 31-29 lead with 1:45 left in the half.
Duke’s Jahlil Okafor was on the bench with two fouls.
The Game Was Tied at 31 at Halftime
The teams went into the locker room at halftime knotted at 31 – the first time a National Championship game was tied at the half since 1988’s Kansas-Oklahoma contest.
Duke’s Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow had 2 fouls apiece, while Wisconsin had 2 total as a team.
UW held the rebounding edge 19-14 and had 8 offensive boards.
Duke shot 50 percent from the field (13 of 26), while Wisconsin was 38.7 percent (12 of 31).
Through the first 20 minutes, there were 13 lead changes and 3 ties.
Wisconsin Came Out Hot in the 2nd Half
Using a 7-2 run to open the second half, Wisconsin took a 38-33 lead and forced Duke to call a timeout in the first 90 seconds.
The Blue Devils’ Jahlil Okafor picked up his 3rd foul with 16:50 left in the game.
When the first official timeout came with 15:46 remaining, the Badgers were 4 of 5 from the floor and led by 5 points.
Wisconsin’s Sam Dekker took a shot to the face and was forced out of the game. He returned with 12:30 left.
The Badgers Took a 9-Point Lead With 13:17 Left
Continuing with their second-half hot shooting, Wisconsin took a 48-39 lead with about 13 minutes left in the game. The 9-point deficit was Duke’s biggest in the entire tournament.
Grayson Allen Kept Duke in the Game
After going down 9, Grayson Allen scored 6 straight points to cut the lead to 3, but Wisconsin answered with a 3-pointer to keep the Devils down by 6.
Allen scored 8 consecutive Duke points before Tyus Jones’ 3-point play cut the lead to 1 at 51-50 with 10:30 left.
The Game Was Tied Again With Under 7 Minutes Left
Despite Jahlil Okafor’s 4 fouls and offensive ineffectiveness, Duke was hanging around, and tied the game at 54 with under 7 minutes left.
Both teams had just 5 turnovers apiece and each had scored 24 points in the paint.
Duke Held a 3-point Lead With 42.2 Seconds Remaining
The teams went back-and-forth and Duke held a 66-63 lead with 42.2 seconds left.
Jahlil Okafor returned to the game after 6 minutes on the bench with 4 fouls and scored 2 quick baskets for the Blue Devils.
Leaders Scorers & Stats
Tyus Jones – 23 points, 5 rebounds
Grayson Allen – 16 points
Justise Winslow – 11 points, 9 rebounds, 3 blocks
Jahlil Okafor – 10 points, 3 rebounds
Frank Kaminsky – 21 points, 12 rebounds, 2 assists
Sam Dekker – 12 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists
Bronson Koenig – 10 points, 4 assists
Nigel Hayes – 13 points
Preview: Duke & Wisconsin Meet Again, But This Time It’s for the National Title
Back on December 3, Duke took down then-No. 2 Wisconsin 80-70 on the Badgers’ home court.
That was 4 months ago. A lot has happened since then. For Duke and Wisconsin, what has been happening a lot is winning.
And that’s why the two college basketball giants are the last remaining squads in the NCAA Tournament.
The teams meet Monday night in Indianapolis with a NCAA Tournament National Championship on the line.
Led by national player of the year Frank Kaminsky, the Badgers feature an experienced squad looking for its first title since 1941.