Duke top Wis­con­sin 68-63 for na­tional ti­tle

The China Post - - SPORTS - BY ED­DIE PELLS

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.

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