Duke is going to the Final Four.
The Blue Devils booked their ticket to Indianapolis with a 66-52 win against Gonzaga on Sunday.
After Matt Jones converted a layup with 45 seconds left, giving the Blue Devils a 66-52 lead, coach Mike Krzyzewski turned to his family in the stands behind him and yelled, “We’re going to the Final Four!”
Yes, they are, for the record-tying 12th time under Krzyzewski.
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Playing in his hometown, Justise Winslow made the critical plays at the end of the game to make it so.
Coming out of the final media timeout, Winslow sank two free throws to give Duke a 57-51 lead with 3 minutes, 38 seconds left. At the other end, he came down with a rebound, and then he sank a 3-pointer to give Duke a 60-51 lead with 2:48 left.
“He’s the last guy I would want to guard,” assistant coach Jon Scheyer said. “He’s attacking all the time. And because of that, he can shoot, so it’s pick your poison a little bit.”
This wasn’t just any other game, as the Duke coaches, whose default setting is intense, found another level on that scale, pounding on the floor, cursing fate and fist-pumping through the air with the force of a knockout punch.
It was the Bulldogs who came out with a verve in the second half, scoring five quick points to even the score at 31 and force a Krzyzewski timeout.
The pressure picked up after Jahlil Okafor airballed a free throw with 17:17 left on the clock. About a minute later, it was a Quinn Cook bank shot that stopped the bleeding for Duke, cutting Gonzaga’s lead to 38-36.
In addition to Cook, it was an unlikely hero for the Blue Devils – Matt Jones – who made three momentum-grabbing 3-pointers in the second half. Gonzaga knew that Kyle Wiltjer, who played tremendously on offense, wouldn’t be able to guard Winslow. So the Bulldogs tried to hide him on Jones – and Jones made them pay.
“A 3-point assassin,” Cook said of Jones. “He is so good on defense that he gets caught into the glue guy perception and a defensive specialist, but that’s what he came to Duke for, to be a shooter and just play his butt off.”
A 13-1 runthat was ended by the final buzzer sealed the win for the Blue Devils, who held Gonzaga to its lowest scoring output of the season. The Bulldogs did not make a field goal over the final 6:38.
“They were just scrappy and poking at the ball,” Wiltjer said. “They denied, did a lot of switching. Kind of got us out of a rhythm.”
When the postgame celebration commenced, all eight scholarship Blue Devils surrounded Krzyzewski, listening in as he did his TV interview. He repeated a lot of what he has told his team consistently this year.
“I love my team,” Krzyzewski said. “I love my team.”
At Lucas Oil Stadium
Michigan State vs. Duke, 6:09
Kentucky vs. Wisconsin, 8:49
▪ Bracket, 7B