The Duke Blue Devils for the 2nd time this season knocked off the Wisconsin Badgers, 68-63, also winning their 5th title in school history, Coach K being apart of all of them. I picked the Badgers in this game only because I don't like Duke, but with my hatred aside, I expected Duke to win the title back in November, mainly because of their stellar freshmen. Jahlil Okafor didn't have monster game, 10 points, 3 board, and 4 fouls, but Tyus Jones did, walking away with the Most Outstanding Players award for scoring 19 of Duke's 37 second half points.
First and Foremost, I want to say this was a very good basketball game with some very good basketball players. The battle inside between Frank Kaminsky and Jahlil Okafor was an entertaining chess match. Both players are skilled post players and has some moves that you don't see too often in this guard influence era of basketball. Frank being a senior looked to be the more skilled big man in the matchup, forcing Jahlil to sit early in the 1st half with two fouls.
Okafor had issues with guarding Kaminsky because of his ability to play outside of the paint, also a mean dropped step. Numerous times, Kaminsky took Jahlil off the dribble from the top of the key which led to him being in early foul trouble. Kaminsky scored 21 points and grabbed 12 boards against the Blue Devils, but Jahlil came up with a couple big plays late in the game, with two buckets and a big offensive rebound.
With 13:39 remaining in the game, Wisconsin was leading 48-39, on a 17-8 run to begin the half. Kamisky dominating the paint was really opening things for Wisconsin, not only because the Okafor wasn't on the court but also it forced the Blue Devils to double which opened things up for the guards on the perimeter. Nigel Hayes went 3-3 before missing his first 3-pointer, finishing with 13 points.
Bronson Koenig also contributed 10 points but I thought late in the game he made some bad decisions, not working the ball around the horn or getting it to the big fella.
Duke's defense was the big reason for their victory. Speaking with my partner, Jeris Brooks - biggest Duke Fan I know, it sad - we both agreed that the Dukies had to stop Sam Dekker from going bonkers, and they did. Even though Kaminsky went for numbers, we both expected that, but Dekker only finished with 12 points, half of which came from tip-ins.
I was expecting Sam to score 25 just because I thought it was his opportunity for him to make his claim as a high draft pick, instead he went 0-6 from the trey ball line.
The best player on the court was Tyus Jones. Jones finished with 23 points, shooting 7-13 from the field. When Jahlil got into foul trouble, Tyus closed out the game, along with some help from Grayson Allen, who also scored 16. This isn't new for Tyus though, he's been closing out games all year, did it against North Carolina, did it against Virginia, and now he did it in the National Championship. I'm not sure what more a FRESHMAN would have to do to prove that he is ready. My rule for 1-n-done is, one must win the National Championship or win the Wooden Award, so he is all good in my book. He doesn't have the prototypical size for a guard but the boy can hoop.
This is another ring for coach K and a first for 4-year senior Quin Cook, who was the leader of this team. Like I said before I HATE Duke, I will always root against them, but I actually like the players on this team because of their skills and how they play basketball. Jones, Okafor, Winslow, Allen, all made a fan out of me. Congrats to Duke and Coach K for their championship run.