Duke top Wisconsin 68-63 for national title
Duke outscored Wisconsin by 14 points over the final 13 minutes to grit out a 68-63 victory for its fifth national college basketball title on Monday.
Jahlil Okafor, the likely first pick in the NBA draft if he decides to leave Duke, was outplayed by Wisconsin senior center Frank Kaminsky most of the night but came through big when was highest.
The freshman made two straight buckets over Kaminsky, sandwiched between a pair of 3-pointers from Tyus Jones, to help the Blue Devils turn a one-time ninepoint deficit into an eight-point lead with 1:22 left.
A furious Wisconsin rally ensued, but it came up short. Then, it was Okafor celebrating on the
the pressure bottom of a pile of teammates — a scene reminiscent of the last time the Final Four was in Indianapolis, back in 2010 when Duke edged out Butler in another scintillating final. The Blue Devils also took one here in 1991 — the Grant Hill, Christian Laettner squad.
“It was heaven,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said of the stadium where he’s 4-0 in Final Fours. “It was really divine.”
Krzyzewski has five national college titles, alone in second place on the all-time list, behind only John Wooden.
Coach K did it with youngsters who grew into salty old pros — many of whom won’t be around too long.
There’s Okafor, his friend, Jones — who finished with 23 points and was named MVP — and another freshman, Justise Winslow. All might be playing at an NBA arena near you next season.
“It shows a lot about their confidence,” said Quinn Cook, Duke’s only senior starter.
The most overlooked of Krzyzewski’s first- year players stepped up with Okafor on the bench for much of the second half in foul trouble. Grayson Allen, the slam- dunk champion at the high school McDonald’s All-American contest last year, scored 16 points — 12 above his average — including eight straight for Duke after Wisconsin went up by nine.
But the Badgers couldn’t pull away from an aggressive Duke defense that allowed only 55 points a game in the five contests leading to the final.
Wisconsin shot 41 percent — 7 points under its season average.
Kaminsky finished with 21 points and Nigel Hayes and Sam Dekker added 13 apiece for the Badgers, who were trying to win their first national title since 1941.
“Shots just weren’t falling, and they were getting to the line, and when the tide changes like that, it’s kind of hard to get back in the flow,” Dekker said.