You just knew it was coming. You could feel it and apparently so could the freshman at Duke.
Led by Tyus Jones and Grayson Allen in the second half, the Duke Blue Devils took home their fifth National Championship under Coach Mike Krzyzewski. Jones, the freshman point guard, scored 23 points. Grayson Allen, the back-up freshman point guard, came off the bench to score 16 points, helping Duke overcome a foul trouble plagued Jahlil Okafor and seal the deal for the Dukies. The two freshmen combined to score 19 of Duke’s 37 points in the second half; meanwhile the Badgers scored a total of 32 points in the second half, failing to capitalize on Okafor’s foul trouble and Wisconsin’s 10 point lead, the largest deficit faced by Duke in this year’s tournament. Even more amazing was the fact that Allen had scored a total of 18 points the entire tournament before tonight’s game. Looks like he picked a great time to play his best ball.
After going up by 10, and seeming to be on their way to a Championship victory, the Badgers suddenly forgot how to score, how to deal with Coach K’s shadowing defense in the paint (led by Justise Winslow) and how to defend the high pick and roll. With Tyus Jones destroying the Badgers on the high screen play for two three pointers, making Wisconsin look like as confused as the New York Knicks while defending a pick and roll, the deficit was quickly erased. Also aiding in the elimination of the deficit was the poor officiating, blatantly missing a crucial out of bounds call that was clearly off of the fingertips of Winslow and failing to overturn the call which would have given the ball back to the Badgers with under two minutes to play in the game. Even Wisconsin Coach Bo Ryan was upset after the game over the poor officiating, saying “It was just a situation where you just have to be able to handle all the hands and the checking, I mean there was more body contact in this game than any game we played all year.” He went on to say to CBS’ Tracy Wolfson “I just feel sorry for my guys that all of the sudden the game was like that. I think they’re struggling with that a little bit. We missed some opportunities, they hit some tough shots. It’s just a shame that it had to be played that way.”
Watching Coach K exploit the Badgers in the final few minutes of the game was like watching Patriots’ Coach Brian Belichick picking on a rookie defender; they spot the weakness and go for the jugular immediately. This is why they are so successful. They are able to identify weak spots and take advantage of them at key moments in a game. The Blue Devils baffled Wisconsin’s inside game by sending a “Hawk” like player into the lane whenever Kaminski got the ball down low. And on offense, they went right for the high pick and roll as they saw that Kaminski was not recognizing the need to step up and challenge Tyus Jones’ shot. Said Coach K “Tyus, run the high ball screen and just be you.”
And that was all the freshman needed to hear, scoring 23 points en route to becoming the fifth freshman in Tournament history to win Most Outstanding Player. Frank Kaminski lead the Badgers with 21 points and 12 rebounds. Sam Dekker, who was on fire in wins over Arizona and Kentucky, seemed to be a non-factor, scoring 12 points and grabbing 8 rebounds, but failing to hit the big shots that carried the Badgers to their previous tournament victories.
Final score- Duke 68, Wisconsin 63. Another shining moment for Coach K and his Blue Devils.